Monthly Archives: December 2016

Review and Giveaway: Love Give Us One Death by Jeff P. Jones

LOVE GIVE US 
ONE DEATH
  Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days
by
Jeff P. Jones

**WINNER: 2016 Idaho Author Award**
**WINNER: 2015 George Garrett Fiction Prize**


Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press
Date of Publication: October 25, 2016
Number of Pages: 232
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Bonnie and Clyde are the most famous outlaw pair in American history. Frank Hamer, the legendary Texas Ranger, was hired to stop them. Part prose, part verse, with historical artifacts interwoven, the well-researched novel tells the story of their deaths on a lonely Louisiana back road, as well as their bloody and short lives together. Its many voices invite the reader to become a ghost rider along with Bonnie and Clyde, while it also exposes the forces of injustice and greed that created them.


 PRAISE FOR LOVE GIVE US ONE DEATH:
“If you are a fan of historical fiction, you must secure a copy of his debut novel in which Jones ‘added, subtracted and distorted facts’ adroitly and creatively in his re-telling of Bonnie and Clyde’s last days. There are very few writers who can write like Jones — in many voices and in various forms — but he choreographs his work like an award-winning producer, designating him as unique as the members of the Clyde Barrow Gang.” -Idaho Statesman
“Love Give Us One Death delivers not only a knock-out story of brutal adventure, and love, across the heartland of the Great Depression, but a story about the very character of the republic itself.” -Robert Wrigley, Poet
“This is the history of love and destruction you didn’t know you needed. In a time of Public Enemies, we see the last legs of a journey between the violent and manic Romeo and Juliet-like pair. The last public outlaws are riding away into their last sunrise, and this book serves as its journal.” -Atticus Books
“The language is absolutely stunning. Characterization, historical setting, ambience are all accurate and depicted with great clarity. A terrific achievement.” -Mary Clearman Blew, Author of All But the Waltz
“This is historical fiction raised boldly to the level of myth.” -Tracy Daugherty, Author of The Last Love Song

  

300b2-review

Everybody knows who Bonnie and Clyde were. To my knowledge, they were the first real ride or die outlaw couple. I’m not one romanticize crime, even if their love was more epic than Bobby and Whitney, so I never mooned over their story. I never took the time to research what their story was before (I do this all the time about random things, especially historical figures, so this is unusual. Trust me.). Jones has changed all that for me.
From the first page, I was hooked with the imagery and the first glance into what made Bonnie tick. Fake it until you make it comes to mind. Shaking off fear or insecurity by throwing your arms up in the air and whizzing through life going, “Wooooo!” like a roller coaster. You get that vibe from Bonnie the few times she gets unsettled. To be honest, she is what kept this story rolling for me. I didn’t find Clyde all that interesting, but Bonnie was something else.
I knew a girl who reminded me of Bonnie. She, too, was small of stature and seemed to batt away the potential coddling by establishing her sailor’s mouth before anyone can get a word in sideways. But that’s about where their similarities end. Bonnie has a husband locked away somewhere. I had no idea about that tidbit and got a bit ruffled that one of history’s most (in)famous love stories is adulterous. But then I remembered Elizabeth and Richard, Angelina and Brad, and got over it. Maybe I’m just in the Bonnie’s Club now, but I found it endearing that she didn’t have the heart to divorce her man while he was in the slammer.
Jones’ imagery and free flowing dialogue are a real treat as you get to know the couple separately, and then witness their first meeting. You can feel the heat between them and the strength of their characters through their deliberate speech. I don’t know how accurate that would be to how they were in real life, but given from the testimonies of people recalling them in between chapter, I like to think that Jones has them painted right.
And what a light has been shown on that painting. I always thought of Bonnie and Clyde as a couple of gunslingers running around in fast cars with their middle fingers up in the air. I didn’t know that Clyde had tried numerous times to live the straight life. That the law kept finding and forcing him out back into a life of crime. I really like this quote from Nelson Algren: “Who were Bonnie and Clyde? They were children of the wilderness whose wilderness had been razed.” People think mostly about children, little children, when you think about how an environment changes people – nature vs nurture, that kind of thing. For all they’d already experienced in their lives, Bonnie and Clyde were teenagers. Barely through with being children.
The change in storytelling style and perspective keeps everything fresh. It sort of feels like you’re flipping through a scrapbook of all their news clippings or something, mixed in with sound bytes from the various people they came across. I’m really impressed with what went into making such a cohesive and interesting read. I know this is historical fiction, but it all felt very real. It did its job of making me more curious about the actual historical events. Jones’ afterword is a great read too. You really respect all the effort that went into this work.
JEFF P. JONES’s ancestors were sharecroppers in east Texas. He was born in Denver, and was educated at the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Washington, and the University of Idaho. He’s a MacDowell Fellow, and his writing has won a Pushcart Prize, as well as the Hackney, Meridian Editors’, A. David Schwartz, Wabash, and Lamar York prizes. He lives on the Palouse in northern Idaho. This is his first book.

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12/22
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Review and Giveaway: The West Texas Pilgrimage by M. M. Wolthoff

THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE
by
M.M. Wolthoff


  Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age

 

Publisher: River Grove Books
Date of Publication: February 29, 2015
Number of Pages: 220
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Hunter’s friend Ty survived war in the Middle East only to succumb to cancer at home. On a quest with his college buddies and Ty’s father, Hunter journeys from South Texas into the mountains and desert of West Texas to bury his close friend. During this trek, they’ll drink, hunt, party, and encounter unexpected people and enthralling landscapes as Hunter deals with his grief, compounded by his struggle with depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder. 

The West Texas Pilgrimage is a love letter to West Texas and the wild culture that defines it. Author M. M. Wolthoff vividly depicts the regional landscape, exploring intriguing stops along the way and the authentic context of music, food, and language integral to this generation of Texans, while frankly and thoughtfully addressing relationships, mourning, and mental illness, with characters as unforgettable as the region itself.


 

***


PRAISE FOR THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE:

 

I laughed. I cried. This is a book that is real, honest and reminds all of us that life is filled with ups and downs. The only way to keep moving forward is to get real with ourselves about whom we are and accept our beauty and our pain. This young author has amazing wisdom that is so articulately shared with readers of all ages. 
5 Stars, Amazon Verified Purchase
The West Texas Pilgrimage was insightful into the mind of a privileged, pre-adult male who tries to self-medicate his OCD condition with alcohol. While reading, I felt the main character’s vulnerabilities as he struggled with his feelings regarding his career choice, the loss of a good friend to cancer, and the complications of his search for the right female life mate. The book was a quick read…only because I could not put it down! There were several “ah-ha” moments when I thought: oh my, that’s really how a pre-adult male thinks??!? I never knew!! 
5 Stars Donna J Millon
I read the first half of the book in one night; it draws you in with believable characters and real challenges they face. Could have been written about people you know or have met. It covers some tough topics but is an enjoyable read. — 5 Stars Peter Day
Really nice read. Very detailed description of so many things made me feel like I was right there with them. 2 nights to read for a non reader like me makes for a really easy and entertaining time. Thumbs up. 
5 Stars Nunya
The book brought me right back to the border towns of my youth. Step outside any bar and be hit with the smell of fajita and sewer. Glorious!  — 5 Stars Amazon Verified Purchase
Review
Only moments into this novel I thought to myself, Wolthoff knows a lot about guns. Hunting, game animals, and cowboy gear, too. And after waiting to see if Hunter (funny how that’s his name and he never pulls a trigger) will shoot down the biggest buck ever seen, I found that I had been holding my breath. I was so taken with the beautiful description. Well, minus the talk about taking a piss. I suppose there must be some allegory at play there but I’m not very good at dissecting literature like that.
Hunter is not the kind of guy that I hung out with or lusted after during my UT years. I didn’t run in circles like his either, so his and Cinco’s shenanigans are things that I’ve only heard of or seen in National Lampoon and American Pie movies. But all of their douchiness fades a bit when you realize they’ve come together to remember their dear friend who lost his battle to cancer. Only in the memories of his friends do you get to know Ty. From cocky playboy to soldier to smitten man to loving father. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel teary eyed to find Ty hung on just long enough to meet his newborn baby.
I’m not a fan of went on in Mexico, but I guess boys will be boys. Especially when in Boys’ Town. I don’t really understand why Hunter and Cinco went there. Hunter tried to find the humanity in a hooker and then boinked her brains out. I was just confused. They run into trouble, of course. I’m not going to say why but I will say that I didn’t see the point of it. The novel would have been just as real and touching if that whole section was removed and the guys just met up with Ty’s dad and the crew to go on the hike.
On a side note, I wouldn’t have minded a little more interaction between Hunter and Stacey, Ty’s little sister. That might just be the chick lit lover in me, but that would have been a great replacement for the Boys’ Town saga.
I can say for certain that the climb up the mountain was literal and figurative for Hunter. Even I’m not too thick to see that. I got teary eyed again as all the guys laid their memories in with Ty’s ashes. When I put my phone down (I read the ebook from my phone), it occurred to me that not much happened in this book. Yet, I felt like I had been on a journey. Not a pilgrimage, not for me, at least. But I could definitely see how that short journey, short in both time and distance, was the beginning of a new life for Hunter. I hope he doesn’t squander it.
Matthew Martin Wolthoff lives in McAllen, Texas, with his wife, Lucy Ann, and three children, Hunter Ann, McCoy Martin, and Kerr Dunkin. He grew up in a military family, living all over the world until finding home in South Texas, where he went to high school in San Antonio. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His parents instilled a passion for reading and writing in him early in life that grows stronger every day. An avid outdoorsman, he finds his inspiration—and peace of mind—in the shallow waters of the Lower Laguna Madre and the wilderness of the South Texas brush country. His first West Texas pilgrimage was in 2010. It was a life-changing event.  

 

 


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Giveaway: Moved, Left No Address by Vickie Phelps

 

MOVED, LEFT NO ADDRESS

 

 

by


Vickie Phelps

 

  Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 10, 2016
Number of Pages: 328

 

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Joel Webster’s uncle disappeared forty years ago without a trace. All he knows about his uncle are the stories his mother has told him. Now his parents are dead and Joel is left alone. When he finds some old postcards with his uncle’s name on them, he decides to search for him. His journey takes him from a small town in Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He encounters danger, death threats, and a beautiful woman he can’t resist as he searches for his long-lost uncle.
 
 
 
Prologue
     My uncle, Joel Webster, disappeared without a trace on June 1, 1949. At the time, he lived on the family farm at Silver Creek, Texas, with my parents. I wasn’t around then, but my mom told me stories about him that intrigued me at an early age. Of course, her stories only went as far as the date of his disappearance.
     On the day he vanished, Dad invited Uncle Joel to go with him and my mother into Silver Creek. “Joel, let’s go into town and pick up some supplies. While we’re there, we’ll get us something cold to drink and visit with some of the other fellows for awhile.”
     Uncle Joel shook his head. “Warner, I think I’m just gonna set on the porch awhile and enjoy the nice weather. We won’t have too many more days like this before the heat sets in. You and Maria go on into town and do your shopping.”
     My mom joined in hoping to persuade him. “It’s your birthday, Joel. Come with us. We’ll treat you to an ice cream soda.”
     But he couldn’t be swayed. They left him sitting on the porch alone, smoking a Viceroy cigarette and blowing smoke rings into the fresh morning air. When they returned later in the day, Uncle Joel was gone.

To keep reading Moved, Left No Address and to sample Vickie’s book, 

 
 
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Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past and Moved, Left No Address, and  a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is coauthor with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and two books on writing, How to Write for the Christian Marketplace, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers.
Vickie is the founder and director of the East Texas Christian Writers Group in Longview, Texas and a member of the Northeast Texas Writers Organization. She worked for eighteen years as a bookseller for Barron’s Books, an independent bookstore in Longview, Texas.

Vickie is a native Texan and lives in Henderson, Texas with her husband, Sonny, and one very spoiled schnauzer. 

 
 

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For the Record by Regina Jennings

FOR THE RECORD

 

by

 

Regina Jennings

 

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Bethany House
Date of Publication: December 6, 2015
Number of Pages: 336

 

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Rather Than Wait for a Hero, 
She Decided to Create One
Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.
Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.
The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.
***
PRAISE FOR FOR THE RECORD:

“Jennings creates a perfect blend of love, mystery, and wit in this 19th-century romance.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

 


“Jennings’ latest is a delightfully entertaining historical romance featuring charismatic humor, unpredictable thrills, and vigilante justice. The plot is tense and exciting, and the novel sparkles with the wit and charm of its spirited heroine. It is more romantic and less stuffy than your average inspirational, and Jennings uses classic western touches like six-shooters, spurs, and white Stetsons to land readers squarely in the Ozark Mountains of 1885.” —Booklist
“This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining story line. . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.” —RT Book Reviews
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AuthorInterview

Author Interview 1: Regina Jennings

Where did your love of books and storytelling come from?

Storytelling comes from both sides of my family. My dad’s family likes nothing more than gathering together and spinning yarns. We almost prefer hardships, mess-ups and mistakes because we know that they’ll make for hilarious telling when we’re all back together.

My mom’s family is less gregarious. They are more likely to swap books than tales, but they have a deep appreciation for the written word and a sly sense of humor. Both sides have contributed to my sense of humor and love of stories.

How long have you been writing?

I studied writing in college, but I didn’t have any information on the actual business side of it, so I didn’t know how to get started. Once my kids were old enough that I regained my sanity, I started writing skits and newsletter for my church but it wasn’t until 2010 that I attempted my first novel. That attempt turned into Sixty Acres and a Bride and the beginning of a three-book series.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I write humorous historical romance, but not all times and situations throughout history are that funny. The reason that the Bald Knobber gang formed in the Ozarks in the 1880s was because of rampant violence and corrupt law enforcement. It was a challenge to be true to the times and yet keep the story light-hearted, but I had a great cast of characters to work with. It’s a good reminder that no matter how tough times are, people have always been able to find humor in the situation.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

When the main character, Betsy Huckabee realizes there’s no interesting heroes around to write about, she decides to create one. At first she’s inspired by the handsome new sheriff, but he’s forever frustrating her by not saying or doing the appropriate swoon-worthy things. Knowing that her readers would never find this real man appealing, she has to improve him in her stories.

Through this set-up, I enjoyed poking fun at our expectations for our romance heroes. There were several times in the story when, as a dedicated romance reader, I knew exactly what the hero should say, but instead I had him say something totally doltish. Of course, Betsy turns his bluntness into charm in her stories, so I didn’t have to. It’s a nod to all my readers who enjoy a hero who’s got some real-life grit to him. It’s also a reminder that the fake men in our stories can never compete with the real-life heroes we live with.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I don’t think I could ever call myself a full-time writer because I can’t imagine writing eight hours a day. I just couldn’t stay focused that long. Thankfully, I homeschool our kids so I don’t have to ever worry about having eight hours of uninterrupted writing time.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  

If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.  While in high school I was the “cub reporter” at our local newspaper. Honestly, I did very little reporting, mostly proof-reading the legal notices and setting the classified ads. Still, the experience gave me some insight into Betsy’s job of gathering information for her uncle’s newspaper. While Betsy is getting reports on the price of cattle, she’s dreaming of writing something more interesting, and ends up turning her experiences into ladies’ fiction. Yes, I’d say I can see a correlation.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I read historical romance…surprise, surprise. Inspired by the Poldark series that’s showing on PBS, I started reading those books this fall. Note to self – before starting a series always check to see how many books there are! In this case there are 12 books with the first one written in 1945 and the last one in 2002. I can’t imagine writing a series over fifty years! It might take me that long to read them.


 

Regina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Caught in the Middle, and At Love’s Bidding and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.


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