Review & Giveaway: A Matter of Trust by Susan May Warren

A MATTER OF TRUST
Montana Rescue Series, Book 3
by
SUSAN MAY WARREN
  Genre: Contemporary Romance / Action / Christian
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: July 4, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
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Champion backcountry snowboarder Gage Watson was at the top of his game when one of his fans crashed and died—a death blamed on Gage. After being sued for negligence and stripped of his sponsorships, Gage had no choice but to leave the limelight behind and search for a new life.
Although Gage is now working as a ski patrol in Montana’s rugged mountains, as well as serving on the PEAK Rescue team, he still can’t find peace—or forget the woman who betrayed him.
As a former attorney and one of the youngest senators in the country, Ella Blair is used to being in the public eye. But she does have one secret that has remained hidden—a secret that could have saved Gage his career. Wracked with regret, she’ll do almost anything to atone for her betrayal of him.
When Ella’s brother goes missing on one of Glacier National Park’s most dangerous peaks, the last thing Gage wants is to let Ella join the search. Not only will he have to find her reckless brother, but he’ll have to keep her safe as well. But Ella is undeterred, and suddenly Gage finds himself in a high-stakes adventure on a mountain with a woman who could cost him everything—again. In a world of dangerous heights, devastating injuries, and blinding snowstorms, Gage and Ella must put aside the past and learn to trust each other if they hope to survive.

Praise for the Montana Rescue Series
“Exciting rescues and an old mystery offer a thrilling, roller-coaster plotline and plenty of drama to keep the pages turning.” 
—Bookpage on Wild Montana Skies

“A fast-moving, high-stakes romantic adventure set against the backdrop of Glacier National Park, which will leave longtime fans and new readers alike anticipating the next book in the series.” 
—Publishers Weekly on Rescue Me
PURCHASE LINKS:
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From the moment some kid in a T-rex costume snowboarded on the mountain, I knew I was in for an interesting read. Gage Watson is a guy who takes safety seriously and has to catch the kid and kick him out. What makes this situation even more interesting is that Gage used to be the world’s most celebrated freerider. When he sees people attempt dumb stunts, it is likely because they watched videos of him doing them back in the day. It was three years ago that he tried to talk a young man out of doing a dangerous carve down the mountain and failed. When the guy died, Gage was blamed and his whole life caved in.
After finding some peace as a ski patrolman for the PEAK rescue team, coming face to face with the young woman who stole his heart and later ruined his career, was the last thing anyone saw coming. But it turns out that she’s on a rescue mission of her own. Ella Blair follows her brother, Ollie, to the mountain when she learns of his plan to copy Gage’s most famous and extremely dangerous route. She knows it’s a long shot but pleads with Gage to rescue her brother and to let her go with him.
With emotions running high and the journey so perilous, old secrets soon start pouring out. The question of whether one person can really, truly forgive another for so much pain and suffering is presented among multiple plot lines. One person’s faith in God sparks belief in another. People are able to let go of the past in exchange for a brighter and happier future.
This book is really three stories in one. The main storyline is how Ella and Gage meet again, and the truth about what really happened three years ago. Another storyline follows two young women involved in a sort of love square. And the third storyline that leads into the next book in the series is about an unsolved murder of a young woman. It might sounds like a lot, but the sub-storylines break up what could have just been another gooey love story.
This was a great, suspenseful read. I plan to read the prior books in the series and look forward to reading the upcoming ones.

Susan May Warren is the USA Today, ECPA, and CBA bestselling author of over fifty novels, including Wild Montana Skies with more than one million books sold. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards, Susan has written contemporary and historical romances, romantic suspense, thrillers, romantic comedy, and novellas. 

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
7/6
Character Interview 1
7/7
Excerpt
7/8
Review
7/9
Author Interview
7/10
Character Interview 2
7/11
Review
7/12
Playlist
7/13
Review
7/14
Deleted Scene
7/15
Review
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Excerpt & Giveaway: Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt

BADLANDS
Sawbones, Book 3
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
!!NEW RELEASE!!
  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance
Publisher: Redhook
Date of Publication: June 27, 2017
Number of Pages: 416

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in the conclusion to Melissa Lenhardt’s fast-paced historical series.

Laura’s worst fears have been realized: Kindle has been taken into custody and she is once again on the run. The noose awaits her in New York, but Laura is realizing that there are some things worse than death. Finally running out of places to hide, it may be time for Dr. Catherine Bennett to face her past.
PURCHASE LINKS:
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Excerpt from Badlands by Melissa Lenhardt

Chapter One, Part 3

Continued from the Lone Star Book Blog Tours July 5, 2017 stop of the Badlands tour.
A tall man with a hat pulled low walked behind the woman, jostling her and breaking our gaze. A small strip of his white collar showed between his longish dark hair and the navy-blue coat he wore. Buff colored pants were tucked into the top of his cavalry boots, well worn and dusty from the trail. He held a Remington rifle loosely in his right hand and favored his left leg. A stream of smoke trailed behind his head and I knew he held a thin cigar between his teeth.

I dropped the notebook. It was Kindle, come to find me. Rosemond hadn’t been lying about helping me on Kindle’s behalf. I grasped the open window and yelled, “Kindle!”

My voice was barely a whisper, and the man continued on without stopping, down the steps of the platform and into town. I stumbled across the compartment and opened the door on the third try. Ricocheting down the hall on legs I could scarcely feel, I tripped down the stairs and fell onto the platform on my hands and knees. The redheaded woman was next to me, helping me up with strong thin hands. I stripped my arm from her grasp and tried to run in the direction the man went, but stumbled again. Why wouldn’t my legs work?

“Let me help you.” The woman lifted me up, put an arm around my waist and walked me in Kindle’s direction while I craned my neck searching for him. The steel gray sky was thick with the earthy smell of impending rain.

“There.” I pointed at a saloon down the street and the woman dutifully carried me along. We navigated through horses, wagons and pedestrians, drawing our own peculiar interest; an ugly woman holding a carpet bag in one hand and her other arm around a pale, ill woman. I reached for the porch column and pulled myself up the step. I rested my cheek against the coarse wood, hoping for a well-spring of strength to propel me inside the saloon, and into Kindle’s arms.

“You can’t go into a saloon,” the woman said.

I stumbled through the open door and stood for a moment, letting my eyes adjust to the dark. A card game at a table to the right of the door. A bartender polishing a glass behind planks of wood resting on two cracker barrels. A cracked mirror behind him. The jagged reflection of a thin women with disheveled hair and bruises beneath her eyes. My mouth watered as the oaky scent of whisky drifted around me. I followed the sound of a woman’s laughter coming from the back.

“Hey!”

Finding my legs, I made it to the hallway in the back and stripped open the canvas curtain door of the first room. Empty. I moved to the room across the hall, startling two women in various states of undress. I went to the next room and ripped open the curtain. Kindle had his back to me, facing the naked woman on the bed, her hand between her splayed legs. My stomach lurched with nausea. “Kindle?” My voice was barely a whisper.

“She your wife?” the whore said.

The man turned and appraised me. A thin mustache hung limply from his upper lip, framing a cruel mouth and taking no attention away from his pockmarked olive complexion.

“That dope fiend? Hell no.” The man grabbed my arm and threw me out the door and straight into the bartender who lifted me up, and tossed me over his shoulder like I was a bag of leaves. He stalked through the saloon and dropped me on the ground outside in the middle of the only puddle in the street. With shaking arms, I pushed myself into a sitting position, horse piss dripping from my jaw, and looked up into the ugly woman’s face. The sun was behind her head, masking her expression.

“I told you not to go in there.” I took her offered hand. She pulled me up and released me quickly. She flicked the excess urine from her hand, bent down and wiped it on the bottom of her skirt. “Was it him?”

I shook my head.She sighed. “I’m sorry.”The train whistle screamed and the train labored forward toward California. “You’ve missed your train.”

Though my brain was fuzzy with laudanum and I wanted nothing more than to lie down in the middle of the street and sleep, I understood the import of the train leaving without me. I was free of Rosemond and could return to Kindle. I managed to smile. “So I have.”

My happiness was short lived.

“Laura!”

Rosemond in her ridiculous blue dress stalked toward us holding a flour sack, her powdered, pox-scarred face a mask of fury. The ugly woman turned around and stood shoulder to shoulder with me. “Who’s that?”

“My kidnapper.”


Melissa Lenhardt is the author the Jack McBride mystery series, as well as the Laura Elliston historical fiction series. Her debut mystery, STILLWATER, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and SAWBONES, her historical fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new subgenre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband and two sons.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/27
Notable Quotable 1
6/27
Notable Quotable 2
6/28
Review: Blood Oath
6/28
Review: Badlands
6/29
Review: Blood Oath
6/29
Review: Badlands
6/30
Review: Blood Oath
6/30
Review: Badlands
7/1
Review: Blood Oath
7/1
Review: Badlands
7/2
Badlands Excerpt 1
7/3
Bonus Review
7/4
Bonus Review
7/5
Badlands Excerpt 2
7/6
Badlands Excerpt 3
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Review & Giveaway: Hitchin’ Post by Julie Barker

HITCHIN’ POST
by
Julie Barker
 Genre: Children’s Picture Book / Rhyming / K-3
Publisher: LifeRich Publishing
Date of Publication: July 14, 2016
Number of Pages: 46
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Hard work and the cowboy life on the 6Bs Ranch is nothing new to old jackrabbit Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post is a picture book written in rhyme describing old Hitch’s life on the 6Bs Ranch and his journey in finding what it truly means to be thankful.  His beloved ranch goes through a terrible drought, but Hitch decides that despite challenges, there is always something to be thankful for. He discovers that it is relationships with his friends and his beloved ranch that makes him feel rich. 

 

 

PRAISE FOR HITCHIN’ POST:
**2017 North Texas Book Festival Honorable Mention award*
Wonderfully told with beautiful, rustic illustrations. — Emily-Jane Hills Orford, Readers’ Favorite 
I can’t wait to share this book with my granddaughters! –- Amy, Goodreads Review
Hitchin’ Post is the most adorable story with the best illustrations! We love, love, love it!!! Cory, Amazon Verified Customer
PURCHASE LINKS:
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My son is a little younger than the intended audience (he is 4 and in pre-kindergarten), but I read this book to him during my first read through. He asked me why Hitch’s hair was so long. He didn’t realize that the cowboy was actually a rabbit! I was also surprised that my son’s attention was drawn to the more realistic illustrations in the book: a herd of horses running, a windmill, and a spider inside of a jar. I could feel his attention wander at times, so I would say that the K-3 recommendation is right on the nose.
In a world of psychedelic colored children’s books, Hitchin’ Post is a nice, soothing story to flip through. I really admire Altman’s steady hand with the pen and her use of watercolors. I also found her choice of mixing realistic and cartoonish illustrations refreshing. I think I agree with my son, I found the realistic illustrations especially great.
I don’t read poetry often, so I had difficulty finding a comfortable rhythm as I read this book to my son the first time. I’m not a poet, but I think that the rhyming scheme changes throughout. That means you might need to read this aloud a few times to feel the rhythm as well. Which you will anyway because the story is adorable and reminds us that life is good and to be thankful for our friends.
I think this book is great for school aged kids. I think it would be especially inspiring for teachers to read this during Rodeo Art time in school.
 
Julie Barker was born and raised in west Texas, and currently resides in Quanah, Texas, with her husband and three children.  She maintained her west Texas roots into college when she attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock, receiving a degree in social work.  Julie has grown up surrounded by the ranching heritage, and felt drawn to share this way of life through the adventures of the little cowboy jackrabbit, Hitchin’ Post.  Hitchin’ Post marks Julie’s debut into the world of children’s literature.  She was fortunate to have her mother, artist Carolyn Altman, provide the cute, whimsical illustrations of old Hitch and the 6Bs, making this project extra special.
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6/26
Review
6/27
Sneak Peek
6/28
Excerpt
6/29
Review
6/30
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7/1
Scrapbook Page
7/2
Promo
7/3
Review
7/4
Cover Reveal
7/5
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Review & Giveaway: Heart on the Line by Karen Witemeyer

HEART ON THE LINE
Ladies of Harper’s Station #2
by
Karen Witemeyer
  Genre: Christian / Historical / Frontier Romance
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: June 6, 2017
Number of Pages: 336
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Grace Mallory is tired of hiding. She hungers for a normal life, perhaps even a suitor like two of her friends in Harper’s Station have found. But when the man she believes responsible for her father’s death discovers her whereabouts, survival takes priority.

Amos Bledsoe prefers bicycles to horses and private conversations over the telegraph wire to social gatherings with young ladies who see him as nothing more than an oddity. His fellow telegrapher, the mysterious Miss G, has been the ideal companion. For months, their friendship—dare he believe, courtship?—over the wire has fed his hope that he has finally found the woman God intends for him. However, when he intercepts an ominous message and discovers her life is in peril, Amos must shed the cocoon of his quiet nature to become the hero Grace requires.

PRAISE FOR HEART ON THE LINE:
“Witemeyer blends history, suspense, and romance with touches of humor. Women will enjoy this story that proves heroes come in unexpected shapes and sizes and not always on a white charger.”Christian Market

“Online dating meets 1890s Texas in this charming, spiritually deep, laugh-out-loud funny romance!”—reader review on Goodreads
 PURCHASE LINKS:
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My heart did a happy dance TWICE immediately upon beginning this book. I love telegrams. I have no idea why. I think I have romantic connotations with the communication medium because of the Sound of Music. The second thing that made my heart so happy was that the main character was a strong, independent woman with a quick wit. I love female characters with gumption, but more on that later.
Harper’s Station struck me as sort of a Neverland, being a women’s colony and with a definite “no boys allowed” vibe hanging in the air. The few men who live or have access to the town must be trustworthy because the women of Harper’s Station are tough. Aunt Henry might be getting on in years but she can still pull a terrifying pistol on uninvited guests. I haven’t read the prequel to this book, but Witemeyer does a great job of filling in some details so you don’t feel lost. I got attached to each character quickly, so you know I will be going back to read Book One.
But back to the romance of telegrams, this book delivers that warm and fluttery feeling. The idea of falling in love with someone and recognizing them by the style of their tapping was so cute. It sort of reminds me of how my heart would race when my AOL instant messenger would sound when I got a late night chat request from my latest crush. Not the same, I know. That’s why telegrams are so wonderful.
If you didn’t catch on to Grace’s smarts from the espionage-worthy plans she works out with her father, you definitely see them when she tests the two strangers who come to town. I don’t want to ruin any of it, so I will just say that Witemeyer’s writing style paints the scene with Amos beautifully. And when you start to worry that our heroine might be duped by dashing good looks, Witemeyer drops tiny descriptive sprinkles that will dissipate those qualms.
The storyline is a little predictable if you’re an avid romance reader, but the details are what captivate you and urge you to read on. I still felt the suspense and would wonder what sequence of events would lead us to the happy ending.
I’m adding this book to my cozy reading collection: books that I read when I need some uplifting or simply want to feel comfy wrapped up in a blanket with hot cocoa. I highly recommend that you add it to yours as well.
 

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyer writes historical romance to give the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Texas, with her husband and three children. 

 





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6/23
Excerpt 1
6/24
Promo
6/25
Review
6/26
Guest Post 1
6/27
Review
6/28
Excerpt 2
6/29
Guest Post 2
6/30
Review
7/01
Promo
7/02
Review
   
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Character Interview: The Eldridge Conspiracy by Don M. Winn

THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY

Sir Kaye the Boy Knight, Book 4

by

Don M. Winn

  Genre: Children’s Chapter Book / Adventure / Medieval

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Date of Publication: June 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 166, B&W illustrations

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Kaye’s father is in danger! The young knight, Kaye, and his friends Reggie and Beau enter Eldridge in search of the only man who can save Kaye’s father. During their journey, they encounter and make a powerful enemy of Baron Thomas—the self-proclaimed heir to the throne of Eldridge—who also has his sights set on ruling the country of Knox. Together, the boys dodge the baron’s henchmen and race against time to stop an assassination that would plunge the two kingdoms into war in this exciting conclusion to the series.

PRAISE FOR THE ELDRIDGE CONSPIRACY:

“This set of books just gets better and better. Yes, it’s a non-stop adventure, packed full of nasty barons and battling knights. But it’s also a story which is strongly-themed and where the bond between the characters is highly prized.” —The Wishing Shelf Awards Book Review

“Books of adventure and challenge that still offer an emotional component are hard to come by for middle-grade readers—and even more so for middle-grade boys—yet Don M. Winn hits the mark dead center with The Eldridge Conspiracy.” —Patricia Reding, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“This is more than just a fictional story; it teaches children about life, about friendship, making decisions, and about not putting too much stock in pride all the time – sometimes pride gets in the way of making the right decision. Great story. I would recommend that the whole series be read in order to get the most out of it and I think all kids will enjoy this tale.” —Ann-Marie Reynolds, 5-Star Readers’ Favorite Book Review

“The Eldridge Conspiracy was a rewarding read due to a wonderful writing style of incorporating dynamic characters, humor, relevancy, and the thought that even without superpowers, children can be heroes.” —Stacey Waltzer, Urban Mommies 

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GuestPost

Author Don Winn Interviews Reggie Stork: A Dyslexic Hero of Self-reference

from the Sir Kaye Children’s Book Series

Although Dyslexia was first documented about 130 years ago, the condition has probably been around for as long as the written word. In my Sir Kaye the Boy Knight medieval adventure series, Reggie—Sir Kaye’s best friend and the narrator of the stories—is most definitely dyslexic. Despite Reggie’s struggles with the complications associated with dyslexia, he also has many strengths, and eventually becomes one of the greatest storytellers in the land of Knox as well as one of its official Royal Chroniclers.  But Reggie’s journey is not an easy one: it takes grit and determination. He constantly works at developing a strong sense of self—that is, believing in himself regardless of what others say, think, or expect of him.

In the following fictional interview with Reggie, we get a glimpse into his personal journey of discovery.

Don: Would you please tell our readers a bit about yourself?

Reggie: My name is Reggie. Well, actually it’s Reginald Stork, but only my parents call me that, and only when I’m in trouble. My friends call me Reggie. I love to explore, solve mysteries, have adventures with my friends Kaye and Beau, ride horses, and eat! My favorite room in the house is the kitchen, but I like being outside best. I’m also a Royal Chronicler of Knox now. That still surprises me when I think about it.

Don: Why is your appointment as Royal Chronicler a surprise?

Reggie: Because writing is really hard for me. I like to talk—people tell me I talk a lot! But even though I can think and say all kinds of things, it’s really hard for me to write it down. It takes too long, and my writing is bad, and I can’t tell even half of the things I want to. It’s frustrating! Reading is hard for me too. I guess at words a lot and use pictures as clues so I can pretend to other people that I can read as well as them.

Don: Reggie, when did you first suspect that you learned differently than other children?

Reggie: I had trouble memorizing the alphabet—big trouble. And numbers are hard for me too. My father is a wool merchant and he used to ask me to help him count the fleeces in his warehouse. I kept losing track of the numbers, and even after counting them, in the space of time between counting and writing the number down, I’d get confused and have to start all over again. My father would get so angry with me!

And I get lost easily. If a friend gives me directions with more than a turn or two, I can’t remember the order or all of the steps. That’s one reason why I love being with my friends—they never get lost!

Don: How have you managed these challenges to do your job as Royal Chronicler?

Reggie: During all our adventures, I realized that, while reading and writing are always really hard for me, I love stories. I love telling them, hearing them, being part of them. And the only way to keep stories safe and share them with others in a way they won’t change over time, is to write them down. Some of my favorite stories are from before I was born—even from hundreds of years ago–and I would never know them if they hadn’t been written down.

If I take my time, and don’t try to rush, I can write down the truth about my adventures with Kaye and Beau. And that’s important! People need to know that Kaye never deserved to be called Sir Donkey, and that Beau is more than just the queen’s nephew, and that I am not stupid! Writing these things down will always be hard work for me, but remembering how important stories are makes me willing to do the work. Also the queen pays me five gold coins a month to write these things down. That helps a lot!

Don: How do you feel about the fact that you have to work harder than your friends to read and write, or that they don’t struggle with getting lost?

Reggie: Sometimes I’m angry or sad. It’s not fair! But thinking about it makes me unhappy. I like to be happy. So now, when I start getting impatient with my slow writing and reading, I tell myself that I’m good at a lot of things too. I am very observant. I like helping people. And sometimes I can be very brave, although I usually don’t know it until after I’ve been brave. I could keep thinking about the things that frustrate me, or I can choose to say, “What’s next?” and get on with life’s adventures. And I like having adventures better than feeling sad about myself.

Don: What’s been the hardest thing in your life so far?

Reggie: Feeling stupid, and feeling like I am always disappointing people because I don’t do things well or fast enough. My father hired tutor after tutor for me, and every one of them quit, telling my father I was stupid and couldn’t learn. My father wants me to become a wool merchant like him and he is always disappointed in me because I’m no good at it—and because I’m no good at anything that matters to him. Sometimes I’ve wondered if I’ll ever be good enough for anything, or anyone! Thinking that way makes me feel alone and sad.

But in a way, I’m glad I’ve had those thoughts about myself because it’s helped me see the things I do well, which helps me feel good about who I am. When I have new adventures and new experiences, I learn new things about myself, and sometimes I learn that I’m good at something I didn’t expect to be good at. It’s always a surprise, but they are happy surprises.

Don: What are you proudest of?

Reggie: Being a good friend. I’ve learned a lot from being friends with Kaye and Beau. It’s taught me that even when I don’t understand what someone else is thinking or feeling, I need to be patient and not take things personally. I’ve learned that friends always look out for each other. Everyone has different things they’re good at, so even if you’re not good at something, probably one of your friends can help you with it. And it’s helped me be a better friend to myself, because learning to see the good in my friends helps me practice seeing the good in myself. Being a good friend has meant learning to make good choices, and to do what’s right for the group. And we have lots of fun and adventures together. My friends are the best!

Don M. Winn is a multiple award-winning children’s author of eleven picture books and four children’s novels. His Sir Kaye the Boy Knight® series of novels for independent readers include The Knighting of Sir Kaye, The Lost Castle Treasure, Legend of the Forest Beast, and The Eldridge Conspiracy. Don’s picture books include The Higgledy-Piggledy Pigeon; Superhero; Twitch the Squirrel and the Forbidden Bridge; Shelby the Cat; Space Cop Zack, Protector of the Galaxy; and many others. 

Don has been writing for over 20 years. After beginning with poetry, Winn moved on to writing children’s picture books. Almost immediately, his growing young readers begged for chapter books, which led to the creation of the Sir Kaye series. As a dyslexic, who well knows the challenge of learning to love to read, Winn’s goal is to write books that are so engaging they will entice even the most reluctant or struggling reader. Winn lives in Round Rock, Texas.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

6/14

Book Trailer

6/15

Review

6/16

Guest Post 1

6/17

Review

6/18

Author Interview

6/19

Excerpt

6/20

Review

6/21

Scrapbook Page 1

6/22

Guest Post 2

6/23

Review

6/24

Character Interview

6/25

Educators’ Special

6/26

Review

6/27

Scrapbook Page 2

6/28

Review

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Review & Giveaway: The Swimming Holes of Texas by Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy

THE SWIMMING HOLES
OF TEXAS
by
Julie Wernersbach & Carolyn Tracy
  Genre: Travel / Outdoors / Swimming
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 240, 100 color photos
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Nothing beats a natural swimming hole for cooling off on a scorching summer day in Texas. Cold, clear spring water, big old shade trees, and a quiet stretch of beach or lawn offer the perfect excuse to pack a cooler and head out with family and friends to the nearest natural oasis. Whether you’re looking for a quick getaway or an unforgettable summer vacation, let The Swimming Holes of Texas be your guide. 


Julie Wernersbach and Carolyn Tracy highlight one hundred natural swimming spots across the entire state. The book is organized by geographic regions, so you can quickly find local places to swim—or plan a trip to a more distant spot you’d like to explore. Each swimming hole is illustrated with an inviting color photo and a description of what it’s like to swim there, as well as the site’s history, ecology, and conservation. The authors include all the pertinent info about admission fees and hours, parking, and on-site amenities such as showers and restrooms. They also offer tips for planning your trips and lists of the swimming holes that are most welcoming to families and pets.

So when the temperature tops 100 and there’s nothing but traffic in sight, take a detour down the backroads and swim, sunbathe, revel, and relax in the swimming holes of Texas.


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This book is what I never knew I needed. A few summers ago I tried to remember the name of that awesome swimming hole from my college years at UT, and it took a while to find it. Between Google and Yelp, I eventually did. But a book like this is exactly what I needed. No more scrolling through poorly written and incomplete reviews (if they exist at all) on Yelp.
True to guidebook form, this one is clearly organized with the park or swimming hole’s name, address, phone number, and web address. Below that, you get hours of operation, fees (they can vary), rules, camping options, and amenities. But the parts that really shine are the pro tips and summaries of the areas and the swimming holes themselves. The pro tips are delivered in a casual and quirky tone. I could picture a sun kissed local sharing those tips with me. The area and swimming hole summaries are beautifully written and more descriptive than the accompanying photographs. The descriptions of each region covered in the book are lovely to read as well.
As a mom, I appreciated any information that related to kid safety and nearby activities. And getting the skinny on which swimming holes had places to eat either on the premises or a short drive away are awesome too.
I know it is backwards to bring up the introduction last, but I thought the gravity of the underlying message would make for a better “outro” for this review. Clean up after yourself. This is said explicitly at least five times. I counted. We want other people, especially future generations, to be able to enjoy Mother Nature’s wonderful amenities, so we need to do our part to ensure that these treasures are protected and maintained.
I highly recommend this guidebook to Texas natives and visitors who enjoy the great outdoors and water activities. Like me, I think you will be pleasantly surprised to see how many swimming holes are just a short drive away.

Julie Wernersbach, Austin, is the literary director of the Texas Book Festival and a former marketing director at BookPeople, Austin’s largest independent bookstore. Carolyn Tracy, Austin, is a freelance photographer who works for an animal welfare nonprofit. They are the authors of Vegan Survival Guide to Austin.

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Excerpt & Giveaway: The Rebirth of Hope by Sau Le Hudecek

THE REBIRTH OF HOPE
My Journey from Vietnam War Child to American Citizen
by
Sau Le Hudecek
  Genre: Memoir / Inspirational
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
Date of Publication: June 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 160
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Born in a demilitarized zone during the Vietnam War to a Vietnamese mother and American soldier, Sau Le arrived in the United States as a young woman with only twenty dollars in her pocket. Though bullied and abused since childhood, she nevertheless came to her new homeland armed with courage and determined to build a decent life for herself, her infant son, and her traumatized mother. This is the story of how she overcame every conceivable hurdle—significant culture shock, a daunting language barrier, serious illness, heartbreak, and betrayal—to become a landlord, a successful business owner, a joyous wife and mom, and a woman blessed with generous, loyal friends. She describes an arduous journey, both physical and emotional, from a place of terror and utter despair to a life overflowing with love and prosperity. Ultimately, this is a story of hope, something Sau Le thought she’d lost long ago in the minefields of Vietnam. Her goal is both to uplift and to remind everyone born on American soil that anything in this land is possible for those willing to put dedication, faith, and passion to work.
Praise for The Rebirth of Hope:
“Sau Le has an innate abundance of beauty, wisdom, loyalty and dignity which led her to overcome unbelievable challenges and fully realize her dream in America. Thus proving once again that adversity builds character. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Dan Jenkins, bestselling author of Semi-Tough

“Sau Le lifted her head and walked through years of hard work and determination, inspiring other women along the way! Every word of her personal journey was written to remind all of us!” 
—Robin Sanders, Sanders Travel Agency

“An inspiring story of a Vietnam refugee’s journey to achieve the ‘American Dream.’ This book is a lesson for everyone.” 
—Martin C. Bowen, financial executive

“To have written this remarkable story is one more example of the focus and tenacity that Sau Le Hudecek has shown in achieving her previous goals. You will remember this gripping tale of resilience and courage.” 
—Gail Williamson Rawl

“A truly inspirational story of a fearless person who overcame unbelievable odds to make a better life and obtain the ‘American dream.’” 
—Janie Beggs
PURCHASE LINKS:
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Excerpt from The Rebirth of Hope

 

We talked about my family and my readiness to be in America. I wanted to answer everything correctly.

And then the interviewer asked a question I didn’t expect, one that would reveal a new dimension in the world of my self-esteem, a part of me that would soon open in a way I would have never imagined.

“I hope you do not mind if I ask you an unusual question,” the American interviewer asked me, communicating easily and politely in Vietnamese.

“I do not mind,” I replied. I wasn’t about to complicate my interview if I could help it. He was free to ask whatever he needed to know, as far as I was concerned. And who was I to say what is an unusual question? None of this was usual to me.

“I am curious why you wear white makeup? Your skin is more of a brown color. It seems odd that you would wear white makeup on skin that is darker.”

I stared at him for a moment, not comprehending the question at first. And then I realized he thought I had a choice. So I answered, “This is the only color of makeup we have in my town and in my salon. I do not have any way to acquire any other color makeup. There is no makeup for my skin color.”

He paused, and smiled. And then he said something I will never forget: “Where you’re going, you won’t have to wear the white makeup anymore.”

He was telling me I was going to America, where I would find the right makeup for my face. The candle in my heart flamed brighter.

After this interview, my life changed forever. From this moment on, my family and I were essentially wards of the United States, although we still lived in Dam Sen. Everything, from room and board to all transportation for our numerous appointments, was funded by the United States government. Before this moment, my family and I had to work hard just to scrape by. Now this far-away place, this country that was still a stranger to me, was taking care of us.

We would leave Vietnam in November 1992.

 

Sau Le Hudecek owns a successful salon in Fort Worth, Texas, while still serving her own elite clientele.  In 1993, she arrived in the United States at the age of 22 and was sworn in as a citizen in 2001. She lives with her family in Granbury enjoying the sunsets from their home on the lake.



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