Monthly Archives: January 2018

Review & Giveaway: Palo Duro by Max L. Knight

PALO DURO
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
Scroll down for the giveaway!

Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.
The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides – Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.

Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review
Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

CLICK TO PURCHASE:
Right off the bat, I noticed that this historical fiction novel reads an awful lot like a history book. Not one of those dry, fact-listing history books, but one that was written by an academic author with a bit of an imagination. When Knight is in this mode of writing, his descriptions go beyond the surface skimming details of most historical fiction books. The colorful descriptions range from the beauty and simplicity of Native American family life to the horrible, clinical depictions of warfare.
I preferred Knight’s sections of dialogue – although I wonder if some of those people were really that eloquent – that truly read like a novel. Those sections are punctuated nicely throughout the novel and kept me moving forward. They also breathed life into people and moments of history that I have never heard about. As I suffered through some of the more horrible, violent parts, the more I realized how watered down or just plain wrong my history classes were from elementary school and even on through college. The victors get to write the history books, right? So I appreciate that Knight treats both sides equally – he doesn’t glorify or justify any of it.
Seventh grade was the last time I remember learning about the Native Americans in Texas. I recall years later hearing that most of what we learned back then was incorrect. I am embarrassed to admit that I never took the time to find out the truth. I hope that Knight has done his research better than those textbook writers.
One thing that I know for sure, Knight has captured the beauty and brutality of the time period. While the book is classified as a novel, I would describe it as a history lesson punctuated by historical fiction. There are a few long stretches of dialogue throughout and it made me wonder if Knight’s choice to write them were due to having more or less documentation on that particular scenario. At the risk of appearing even more history tome-like, I think I would have appreciated footnotes. What I especially liked in this book was the Afterword section because it tied up all the loose ends of what happened to people.
The parts that I savored were sort of day-in-a-life type snapshots: village life among the natives, cattle drives, and gearing up to be a ranger. I glossed over the carnage when I could but lingered over the few times humanity shined through.
What will really stay with me are the following questions: “What accommodation would have satisfied the white’s hunger for more land?” and “What accommodation would have allowed the Apache or any of the Plains Indians to hold onto theirs?” Forever into the future, these questions will be recast with different people or nations inserted. And unfortunately, the answer more often that not might be, “Sometimes it is better to die than to be subjugated.” [Quotes from page 206]
I have a few minor criticisms: Sectioning the novel into books and chapters was a little odd. And then there was the even odder decision to put all of the book and chapter titles in quotation marks. If it were up to me, I would have divided the novel differently so that some sections didn’t seem so sparse while others bloated.
Overall, a great read wrapped in a beautiful cover. It’s not very often that I feel like I’ve learned so much from a historical novel.
Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet “Gray.” A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of ’73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
Blog ║ Twitter  
║ Amazon Author PagePinterest  Facebook
————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One Winner: Signed copy of Palo Duro + $20 Amazon Gift Card
Two Winners: Signed Copies of Palo Duro
JANUARY 10-19, 2018
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1/10/18
Promo
1/10/18
Character Interview
1/11/18
Review
1/12/18
Favorites, Part 1
1/12/18
Guest Post
1/13/18
Review
1/14/18
Review
1/15/18
Excerpt
1/15/18
Favorites, Part 2
1/16/18
Review
1/17/18
Author Interview
1/17/18
Playlist
1/18/18
Review
1/19/18
Scrapbook Page
1/19/18
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

 

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Giveaway, Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Review & Giveaway: Anahuac by William D. Darling

ANAHUAC
A Texas Story (Volume 2)
by
WILLIAM D. DARLING
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Canned Peas Productions
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 244

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder. 
Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.
 

PRAISE FOR ANAHUAC: 

“Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large.” – Lone Star Literary Life
“Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama.” – Kirkus Reviews
I’m a Texan originally from the east coast who’s had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! – Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)
While certainly a period piece, I’m glad that this book didn’t delve too far into Texas history because it already has so much to offer on its own. There is no point in making a masterpiece of the backdrop when the main players, the main point of the story, are so captivating and brilliant already.
I suppose the history of Anahuac leading up to the novel’s present time in the 1970s does serve as a sort of primer before Darling paints his characters with broader and more colorful strokes. Rather than telling us about racial or gender tension, he shows how that strain originated in history and how it evolved into what it was in the 70s. He does the same thing when explaining why the residents of the small town are suspicious of outsiders, even those who are also from Texas but from another town. We’ve seen that trope in movies, but it’s never really explained.
Even before the detailed choreography of the courtroom scenes, one can sense that Darling is an attorney. How? The opening scene all but tells you who murdered Sarita and the main character, Jim, is not really trying to figure out who did it. Jim’s focus is to make sure that the jury can’t say for certain that Reverend Randall Clay killed her. As he builds his case, he might briefly wonder who was really behind it, but his laser-like focus is on making sure his client is found not guilty. And Darling writes the story with this same focus and mission, to let the reader in on what is known for certain and what is hypothetical, with the intent of having us draw the most logical conclusion.
The story of the impending trial is the main thread of the novel, but there are a few other strands woven in concerning the married lives of the couples and the people in their circle that add further tension. I don’t know if those storylines added much to the novel, but I’m pretty sure they carried over from the first book. I think that if I had read Morgan’s Point, I would be more interested in the subplots.
Growing up in a Christian home in Texas, I just had to also mention my specific thoughts on Reverend Clay. I found him fascinating because he struck me as a Billy Graham at first, or maybe I just got that vibe because his medium was radio. But then I definitely likened him to Joel Osteen because of the solicitation for money and the questionable financial practices of his operation. And then he went right back to being a Billy Graham because he could actually spout scripture and theology off the top of his head without stuttering. Anyway, he was a great character and I wouldn’t mind reading about what his deal really is.
My only critiques are production things: the text could use some proofreading and the cover could be less literal and maybe scaled down a bit.
Overall, I thought this was a great read. There is not a wasted word on the page. If you skim, you miss something significant. If you like courtroom dramas, this book is definitely for you.

William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.
Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.
UPCOMING AUTHOR APPEARANCES:
January 12, 2018, 7:00PM

Anahuac Reading & Signing

Deep Vellum Books3000 Commerce StreetDallasTXUS 


January 20, 2018, 10:00AM

Anahuac Reading in Anahuac
William D. Darling brings it on home! He’ll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever.
Chambers County Library202 Cummings StreetAnahuacTXUS 

February 17, 2018, 4:30PM
Anahuac Houston Release Event
William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event.
Murder by the Books2342 BissonnetHoustonTXUS 

 

————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS EACH WIN A COPY OF ANAHUAC + $10 Amazon Gift Card
January 5-January 14, 2018
(U.S. Only)

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1/5/18
Notable Quotable
1/5/18
Author Interview
1/6/18
Review
1/7/18
Notable Quotable
1/8/18
Review
1/9/18
Excerpt
1/10/18
Notable Quotable
1/11/18
Review
1/12/18
Author Interview
1/13/18
Scrapbook Page
1/14/18
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Giveaway, Lone Star Book Blog Tours