Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 321 pages
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Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to the award-winning Texas novel, East Jesus. This new, stand-alone story rampages from the west Texas plains to Huntsville’s Death Row and back. Cowboys, ranchers, driven oilmen, desperate convicts and headstrong women grapple with truths of the heart, of life, and the coming of age in a dramatic struggle you’ll live yourself and never forget.
It is hard to believe that it has been two years since I reviewed East Jesus
. But when I started reading this prequel to East Jesus
, I was immediately transported back to that foreign feeling version of Texas that Manno describes so vividly. Everything feels real, a little too real at times, but it’s such a different version of my great state than I am used to. I won’t go into detail about that all over again, but I can’t help but marvel at how vast and different Texas can be.
The writing reminds me of some of these great short stories we read in my Southwestern Literature days at UT. I can’t remember the titles or authors unfortunately, but I remember the way they made me feel. Those stories made me feel like this one did, the desire to lean in and recoil simultaneously. I suppose it was the fascinating characters that drew me in, but their actions or the situations that they found themselves in would have me back peddling pretty quick too.
I wonder if Manno writes from some imaginary movie that plays in his head. Because this book, much like the sequel, is cinematic. And a very stylistic cinematic work at that. While Tarantino would be the obvious comparison, I see Manno’s style as more of a Wes Anderson. His work is very much character driven and there’s really not a whole lot going on when you attempt to analyze the plot. There are multiple storylines running parallel to each other as you follow one main character for a bit and then another, and they do converge at multiple points. With most novels that use that technique, you nervously anticipate the final collision. But with Manno’s laidback, cowboy pace, you just sort of lope along with the story and know that it will happen whenever it will happen.
For me, the real gem in this book is the dialogue. In East Jesus, Manno did a masterful job of writing teen speak, so I’m not at all surprised that I am a huge fan of the dialogue in this book as well. It makes me wonder how many convicts and cowboys he’s run into over his lifetime. He does a great job writing lines for the sassy women in the book as well. My favorite line is this bit of inner dialogue, “I’m still on hiatus, blessedly suspended between the sins I’ve committed and those yet ahead.”
There were some spots that could have used more editing, but thankfully they didn’t pull me out of the story.
Blood and Remembrance will transport you with its powerful simplicity. There’s a grotesque beauty to the setting and the characters. Immerse yourself fully and pick up East Jesus if you crave more.
Chris Manno of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a doctorate in English from Texas Christian University and teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University.
East Jesus, his first novel, was named “finalist” (second place) for Best Fiction of 2017 by the North Texas Book Festival. The novel takes a close-up, visceral look at West Texas life in 1969 and the good folks who lived it, grappling with notions of family, patriotism and violence, both domestic and in a far-off, unpopular war.
Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to East Jesus, tracing the roots of the main characters in both books, examining the harsh but classically All-American story of life in the Texas panhandle.
Manno is also the author of a third novel, Voodoo Rush, winner for Best Fiction of 2018 by the North Texas Book Festival, and a collection of short stories titled Short Fiction for the Impatient Reader. Both books are available from White Bird Publications of Austin Texas.
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A BORROWED DREAM
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 352
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Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.
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PRAISE FOR A BORROWED DREAM:
“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” — Booklist
“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” — RT Book Reviews
PRAISE FOR A STOLEN HEART, BOOK ONE IN THE CIMARRON CREEK TRILOGY:
“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”—Publishers Weekly
“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”—RT Book Reviews
“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”—Booklist
Catherine Whitfield endeared herself to me in the same way that Lydia Crawford (now Whitfield) did in book one of the series, A Stolen Heart. And that’s because Cabot creates such wholesome and believable leading ladies. Although Catherine is the jilted, secondary character in the first book, in A Borrowed Dream she steps up as a commanding school teacher who does everything in her power to protect her students and to help even strangers who are in need.
After falling in love with Travis Whitfield in book one, you might think that you don’t have room in your heart for another man in Cimarron. But Austin Goddard is a gentle, capable man of many talents. The loving way in which he attends to his motherless daughter, Hannah, is enough to make most women swoon, but a man with a secret is all the more alluring. Despite the lack of calluses on his hands, Austin proves to be a more than capable rancher and the mothers of Cimarron are lining up their single daughters trying to tie the man down. If word ever got out what his real profession was, I imagine they would have resorted to even kidnapping to nab the widower.
Austin’s expertise makes it plausible that a dangerous man will do anything to track him down. Every few chapters, Cabot takes us to a dark place where sinister men are becoming more and more irritated when they can’t find Austin and Hannah. While you hope that they won’t succeed, you are waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Like every good romance novel, the heroine never sets her cap for the dashing newcomer that all the other women in town have their eye on. Their love blooms slowly over tiny acts of kindness that grow into a deeper understanding of one another, overcoming circumstances that test a person’s trustworthiness, and the moment when you realize that your life cannot continue happily without the other person by your side.
Austin’s daughter, Hannah, might have been seen as a pawn or an obstacle by other women, but Catherine only saw a child that needed help. And when another child, Seth, so obviously needs her aid as well, it was heartwarming to watch Catherine and Austin spring into action as a team. Before long, their budding relationship becomes evident and adds an extra layer of complication as the danger continues to loom.
The arrival of yet another stranger to Cimarron sets us up for the final installment of the Cimarron Creek Trilogy. This subplot keeps the book from being too neat and tidy, but doesn’t distract from the main story. Also, it answers some questions left hanging in the previous book. As things wrap up nicely for our heroine in the end, we know that we will see more of her in the next book. I can’t wait to get my hands on the next in the series. I know I will love the next lead heroine as much as Catherine and Lydia. Not to mention, my shelf will look wonderful with such pretty book covers being displayed.
Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
1ST: Copy of A Borrowed Dream, Novel Teas (25 count), Paddywax Library Collection Ralph Waldo Emerson Scented Soy Wax Candle, Cedar & Wild Fern (6.5oz)
2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
APRIL 12-21, 2018
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