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Review & Giveaway: Dam Nation by Hays & McFall

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DAM NATION

Bonnie and Clyde #2

by

CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance

Publisher: Pumpjack Press on Facebook

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

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Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.

The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work. Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit.

So, why is someone trying to blow it up?

When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It’s their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.

Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?

The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.

Dam Nation, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels, continues the explosive “what-if” series, started in Resurrection Road, about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America’s Great Depression.

PRAISE

Crisply written, well-researched, thoroughly entertaining. As in Resurrection Road, Hays and McFall evoke time and place well in this sequel. The story’s politics are fresh and timely. Readers will find Bonnie and Clyde to be great company, and the novel’s framing story (the widowed Bonnie’s 1984 recollections) gives their relationship an extra layer of poignancy. — Kirkus Reviews

“Dam Nation” highlights the real-life turmoil of the 1930s as only Hays and McFall can — shadowy intrigue, plenty of suspects and enough behind-the-scenes and under-the-covers action to keep the narrative sizzling along to the final page. — East Oregonian

A rollicking good read. The real history of the rise of unions and worker rights against the backdrop of a nation recovering from the Great Depression contributes an engrossing, realistic scenario; a vivid read that blends fiction with nonfiction elements in a way that makes the book hard to put down. — Midwest Book Review

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER FOR RESURRECTION ROAD, BOOK ONE IN THE BONNIE AND CLYDE SERIES

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review

Imagine that Bonnie and Clyde didn’t die in 1934. Imagine that another couple had been ambushed in Sailes and that the real Bonnie and Clyde were recruited – well, maybe blackmailed is a better word – to do bad things in order to protect the good things in America. Book 1 of the Bonnie and Clyde series, Resurrection Road, kicked off that very premise and posed the questions: (1) who are Bonnie and Clyde working for and (2) who is the couple that got killed?

Dam Nation, the sequel, continues the pursuit for those answers since book 1 didn’t even come close to revealing them. Other things that carry over from the first book is the fast paced writing and witty dialogue. There is never a dull moment in these books. Every character is colorful, even if that color might be a little gray, and there is certainly a large cast. Surprisingly, I didn’t need to refer back to remember who was whom since the character names were so different from each other and they were truly unique individuals.

Bonnie and Clyde have always been romanticized as the original ride or die couple, and this book backs that claim up. Not only are the two super hot and heavy at the drop of a hat, but they are fiercely protective of each other. I especially enjoyed how Clyde would say something to the effect of, “Oh, you’re in trouble now” or “she’s the one you should be worried about” when their foes try to belittle Bonnie. It’s hard to dislike the notorious couple when you see their compassion spread outward to their few friends.

This book ties up all the loose ends from the prequel but it ends on a somewhat dissonant note. It makes me wonder if there will be a third book. If there is, I’m reading it.

Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book.

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Review & Giveaway: Beyond Control by Kat Martin

 
BEYOND CONTROL
The Texas Trilogy, Book 3
by
Kat Martin
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Zebra
Date of Publication: May 29, 2018
Number of Pages: 368
  
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Present Danger
When Victoria Bradford got engaged, she told herself to give love a chance. Six months later, she’s on the run from her angry, abusive ex-fiancé with her four-year-old daughter and nowhere to go.

Seventy miles north of Dallas, the Iron River Ranch is pretty much nowhere. That’s what its new owner, Josh Cain, wanted when he came back from Afghanistan. Big skies, quiet nights, no trouble.

One look tells Josh the pretty redhead with the adorable little girl will give him trouble of the most personal kind. But he’s seen trouble before, and he doesn’t scare easy. Not when “accidents” start happening around the ranch. Not when Tory’s best friend back in Phoenix is abducted and brutalized. Not even when it looks like their current problems are only the tip of the iceberg.

But if he gets too close to fierce, determined Tory, Josh knows his nights are going to be anything but quiet. And that’s one possibility no amount of training can prepare him for…

PRAISE FOR BEYOND CONTROL:

“As the excitement in Iron Springs continues, two strangers with tragic pasts form an unbreakable bond. Beyond Control is the last installment in the Texas Trilogy. It’s delightfully fast-paced, riveting, and amazingly compelling. Martin has outdone herself with unpredictable twists and suspense that will leave readers panting for more. Definitely a must-read for readers who enjoy mystery, thrills, and romance to spice up their life.” – RT Reviews Top Pick

“Bestseller Martin brings her Texas Trilogy … to a hair-raising finish with the gripping tale of a single mother on the run and the Marine veteran who offers her a second chance at happily-ever-after. Martin has a consummate skill for developing the most loveable and the most despicable characters; readers will cheer when sadistic Damon meets his well-deserved end. Martin’s finely described Texas is a delight.” – Publishers Weekly

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review
I promise that I am not exaggerating when I say that I could not put this book down. From the onset, my heart went out to this young widow with a small child who thought that she found her second true love. I know what it feels like to be swept up in an all-consuming love affair, and I also know what it feels like when things start going terribly wrong. Unfortunately for Tory, her new fiancee is a closet psychopath who takes pleasure in abusing her. My heart sank to hear how he would stalk her and managed find her no matter where she ran. So when her resources were all but depleted and she found safety on Iron River Ranch, I couldn’t help but sigh in relief.
As I waited for the crazy ex to find her, I luxuriated in the sensual descriptions of Josh Cain and fanned myself after every heated encounter between him and Tory. Just when I thought that Martin couldn’t possibly come up with another way to describe how rugged and manly Josh looked in a T-shirt and jeans, she proved me wrong. She was also able to emulate the inner workings of the male mind when she would describe how tempting Tory looked in her bedazzled jeans and figure-hugging tops. I swear, there is only one or two not good looking people in this book. But looks aside, you become invested in the characters.
I like the pace of the story and the subplot that comes in, which makes you question just how diabolical a person can really be. Martin does a great job of throwing a wrench into the works just when you think you have things all figured out. The love scenes were blush-worthy yet tasteful. (Although I wonder if Martin has children since I don’t know many 4-year-olds that never wake up in the middle of the night looking for mom.) I almost wanted to say that the choice to include love scenes of another couple was maybe a little gratuitous, but I think that Martin wanted to shed some additional light on the struggles of a particular population in our country. I would say more but I don’t want to ruin the surprise of another great coupling.
Some might think it’s a bit on the nose, but I love the story arc of Tory’s relationship with Josh’s dangerous horse, Satan’s Star. I like how Martin uses the horse’s issues to parallel those of the humans around him. I just like animals in general, so I always got a cozy feeling when the horses were in the scene.
I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy romance and/or suspense novels. It definitely makes me want to read the other two books in the trilogy.

 

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. Currently residing in Missoula, Montana with her Western-author husband, L. J. Martin, Kat has written sixty-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. More than sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries. Kat is currently at work on her next Romantic Suspense.
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Review & Giveaway: Searching for Pilar by Patricia Hunt Holmes

 

SEARCHING FOR PILAR
by
PATRICIA HUNT HOLMES
Genre: Contemporary Suspense / Thriller
Publisher: River Grove Books
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 320 pages

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Pilar, an innocent young wife and mother, is abducted during a fake job interview in Mexico City and forced into sex slavery in Houston. Can she survive the horrors of a world—one which many good Americans don’t see or ignore—long enough for her brother Diego to find her?

Searching for Pilar breaks open the secretive and dangerous world of sex trafficking, while exploring human nature and our connections to each another. Diego’s guilt transforms him from a rudderless youth into a man of purpose, and courage. While he searches, Pilar finds a strength that could save herself and a young girl who needs her. The themes of family, love, faith and the law intertwine in this action-packed tale of the Bayou City.

PRAISE FOR SEARCHING FOR PILAR:

“Patricia Holmes fictionalizes the heartbreaking reality of cross-border sex trafficking in her novel, Searching for Pilar. This cautionary tale should be required reading for high school classes to foster awareness, understanding, and ultimately solutions to this horrific epidemic.”  —Joanne F. Phillips, author of Revenge of the Cube Dweller.

“In Searching for Pilar, Patricia Hunt Holmes makes us aware of the terrible nature of sex trafficking in the context of a fast-paced, exciting Houston story that moves from affluence and glitz to barrio cantinas and the federal courthouse. The charitable, can-do nature of Houston is reflected in the wide cast of residents who help a young man on an extremely dangerous mission to find his kidnapped sister.  This book will be an added weapon in our fight against sex trafficking.” –Sylvester Turner, Mayor, City of Houston

I have never been one of those “H-town represent” type of people, but I am a happy resident of a small suburb of Houston. Searching for Pilar digs deep into the one thing I am ashamed of that happens not only in the seedy parts of the city, but even down the street from my idyllic neighborhood. When a local “massage” parlor is busted and the mugshots of spent women with vacant eyes are plastered all over social media, people (mostly men) will often ridicule their looks and say disgusting, degrading things. Very rarely have I seen anyone come to their defense, explaining that perhaps these women had no choice because they are essentially slaves. While there are women who are voluntary sex workers in this country, I think that many people are unaware of how many women and even children are abducted from their countries and sold into sex slavery. I think that these same people would be even more shocked to realize that this sort of thing happens to U.S. citizens as well. Sometimes their financial situation is so dire that they are tricked and trapped into working as prostitutes. Even our children and teenagers can be lured by promises of modeling contracts or movie stardom, only to be taken to another city or even shipped outside of the U.S.
Holmes was shocked to find that many of her friends were unaware of the fact that Houston is the hub of human trafficking in the U.S. She started writing this book about five years ago, before human trafficking was covered in the media regularly. Despite the lapse in time, this story is still relevant and disturbing. Women and children from all over the world continue to be exploited and it makes my stomach hurt to know that so much of these terrible activities are filtered through my city. It disgusts me that predators from all around visit the city under the guise of watching professional sports.
Although a little farfetched, it is the sports tie which allows Diego, Pilar’s big brother, the luxury to come to Houston to find his sister. The fact that rich and powerful men, including sports stars, have access to underground men’s clubs, makes it plausible that Diego could find clues about his sister’s whereabouts. And while I like the clues used to find Pilar, I thought that Holmes sometimes hit the readers on the nose to make sure they don’t miss anything. I would have liked a little more subtlety in the descriptive passages and less exposition in the dialogue.
Holmes’ knowledge of the city of Houston is intricate and the description of the area is vivid. In fact, her description of the places in Mexico are so well written, it made me wonder if she traveled to any of them for inspiration. I could imagine myself in Pilar’s small village and felt myself tense up as she entered Mexico City. It was in those moments of great writing that I completely forgot that Holmes was a lawyer before becoming a writer. Oftentimes, lawyers turned writers tend to write dry, almost clinical novels, but Holmes’ ear for dialogue and eye for description sets her apart from those writers.
Thankfully, for a book about sex trafficking, the gory details are not in every chapter. I appreciated that Holmes seemed to keep the disturbing descriptions to one chapter. It was difficult to read and probably even more difficult to write. But I believe the chapter serves a purpose and Holmes executes it as tastefully as possible. It gives readers a peek at the horrors that these women and girls go through. One chapter was enough for my eyes, so I couldn’t begin to imagine living that life all day, every day for years.
I don’t want to give anything away because this story really was an exciting thriller. Much like the debates that some of the novel’s characters have, I hope that this book starts a dialogue among people who have hard opinions about topics like illegal aliens and prostitution. I hope that people will see that bad guys won’t have a business if “good” guys would just stop buying the product.
I recommend this book to just about any adult reader, but I especially want the people who mock the mugshots of busted sex workers to open their world up a little bit. Maybe a little awareness will lead to actions that result in big changes.

Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with the international law firm of Vinson & Elkins LLP.   She was consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, Top Lawyers in Houston, and awarded the highest degree by her peers in Martindale Hubbell. She was a frequent speaker at national public finance and healthcare conferences.  Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.

Patricia has been a member and board member of social service organizations in Houston that focus on helping women, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, and the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red.  She was a founding member and first board chair of Houston Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and low cost legal services to immigrants.  For the past five years, she has been taking writing workshops with Inprint, associated with the outstanding University of Houston Creative Writing Program.  She began to write Searching for Pilar in a workshop after learning that Houston is one of the biggest hubs for sex trafficking in the country.

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Review: Blood and Remembrance by Chris Manno

 
BLOOD AND REMEMBRANCE
by
CHRIS MANNO
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 JesusThis 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.
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review
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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Review & Giveaway: A Borrowed Dream by Amanda Cabot

 
A BORROWED DREAM
The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2
by
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
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 
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review
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. 

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Review & Giveaway: The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis

 

THE FLEECING 
OF FORT GRIFFIN
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Western Humor 
Publisher: Wild Horse Press
Date of Publication: May 19, 2016
Number of Pages: 234

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas


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 When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.  
  With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher. 
   To stay rich, the baron must stay alive!  And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal.  Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas. 
   Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.  

PRAISE FOR THE FLEECING OF FORT GRIFFIN:

“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,”
                             Albany Review
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.”
                             Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads
“If you’re looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” 
                             Bryan Eagle

As a fan of Bluster’s Last Stand, I can’t tell you just how much I looked forward to reading this book. Lewis has the rare talent of being able to write about some of the most gruesome times in our country’s history and make us laugh until we’re out of breath. His characters, partially or completely fictionalized, are colorful and so completely drawn in that you can practically see them.
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin introduces a British character who seems to even influence the narrative voice in the beginning of the novel. Something about Lewis’s turn of phrase in the opening chapter read like a classic British novel. It was almost too descriptive and the stage was set at sort of a languid pace. But then again, maybe the Texas heat was to blame for the sluggish descriptions.
It’s the description of the characters that I savor and would like to sop up every little detail. Count on Lewis to present every sort of person you would expect in a Western, and then some. With the exception of young Sammy, I had a feeling that everybody in that town, locals and visitors alike, were full of bullshit.
The title hits you over the head with a key bit of information from the start: Fort Griffin is about to be had. But you’re constantly guessing at how the chips will fall, what kind of hand the baron is going to be dealt… you get the idea. And while you worry about the British guy’s well-being, you have to wonder if a red herring will make an appearance. At times, the set up feels like the great-grandaddy of Ocean’s 11, at other times it reminded me of a rugby match. How there’s a dog pile of people jostling for position, constantly in motion (no down, set, hike like American football), and the progress can be so minute that you didn’t realize they’ve moved down the field a bit.
“The baron attracted business like dung drew flies,” (p. 68) was a particularly apt description of the man who reeled in all sorts of people who were just after his money. It was entertaining to watch seasoned scam artists leave whatever town they last duped to follow the money, and even law enforcement and military officers plotting to win some money off of him via gambling.
My only issue with the book is the cover. At first glance, the cover is among the best I have seen in a while. But upon closer inspection and after having finished reading the book, I’m pretty sure the baron’s hat is incorrect. He is said to wear a bowler, which, according to Google is accurate in the West, but it appears he’s wearing a top hat. Also, the money overflowing from his satchel are American greenbacks. I’m pretty sure the satchel only contained British pounds. Any American money he picked up along the way was usually stashed on his person. And lastly, the baron is missing his beard. Nitpicks aside, the art looks fantastic.

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press.  Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
     Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series. 
Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
           Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.
       Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press.  His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
       A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities.  He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

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Choice of Any One Book from the H.H. Lomax Series
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MARCH 20-29, 2018

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
3/20/18
Excerpt 1
3/21/18
Review
3/22/18
Author Interview
3/23/18
Review
3/24/18
Excerpt 2
3/25/18
Author Interview
3/26/18
Review
3/27/18
Excerpt 3
3/28/18
Scrapbook Page
3/29/18
Review
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Review & Giveaway: A Target on My Back by Erleigh Wiley

 

A TARGET ON MY BACK
A Prosecutor’s Terrifying Tale of Life on a Hit List
by
Erleigh Wiley
Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
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Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 176 with b&w photos

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Murders don’t happen in Kaufman County, Texas, a sleepy community where people raise their kids quietly and drive into Dallas for work and entertainment. In 2013, murder came to town when two professional prosecutors were slain in cold blood, simply for doing their jobs: one in broad daylight in plain view of the courthouse, and one in his home, along with his wife. Eric Williams is responsible for all the bloodshed—and he has a list of who to kill next.
A Target on My Back is the first-person true story of Erleigh Wiley, an accomplished lawyer who accepted the job as the new district attorney—after the death of her predecessors—which turned her into the next target on the killer’s hit list. This is her story of how she and her family endured the storm of the press, the array of Homeland Security agents assigned to protect them 24/7, and the weight of knowing she was someone’s prey. Though fearing for her life, she served as the prosecution’s final witness against the murderer, sealing his fate on death row. This chilling account of how she survived the hit list is a terrifying cat and mouse tale.

PRAISE FOR A TARGET ON MY BACK:

“A legal thriller with a twist: a crazed lawyer and his wife, believing they have been wronged, become a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde and go on a terrifying murder spree. Next on their kill list is the new DA, and her courage in confronting the killers makes this a fascinating read.”
Dennis L. Breo, coauthor of The Crime of the Century: Richard Speck and the Murders That Shocked a Nation 
“John Grisham and Scott Turow had better start looking over their shoulders. . . Wiley’s engaging, nimble style immediately draws you into the action and proves that sometimes truth really is stranger than fiction. It’s a good thing for us all that she lived to tell about it!”
David Dean, Dallas attorney, former Texas secretary of state and chair of the North Texas Crime Commission
 
“When murder comes to her town, Erleigh Wiley steps into the shoes of the slain district attorney and finds herself on the killer’s hit list. In A Target on My Back, Wiley tells her personal story of overcoming fear in order to carry out her duty to hold Kaufman County, Texas, together while the killer is brought to justice. Don’t miss it!”
Mike Farris, author of A Death in the Islands: The Unwritten Law and the Last Trial of Clarence Darrow
 
A Target on my Back is a unique first-person look into the world of crime-fighting in which the tables have been turned. The author takes the reader on an all-too-real journey into what it means to stand for justice when your very life is in danger. A must-read.
Robert Kepple, executive director of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
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Review
Lately, I have had the good fortune to review books at the perfect moment in my life. As I have finally caught up on all the old episodes of my favorite true crime podcast, this first person account of a would-be victim was next on my review list. That designation alone makes this book special, but the fact that Wiley is a judge makes the proceedings all the more technical and her recollection feel more trustworthy than other true crime tell-alls.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like most true crime books are either written by a court reporter or someone very interested in the case. Immediately, there is a distance between what really happened and what is written on the page. Neither writer would have a solid picture of what happened since it didn’t happen to them. Or on the other hand, some of these books are penned by victims whose stories are understandably colored by their trauma and the emotional rollercoaster of the media circus and courtroom drama. Details could be misremembered or forgotten.
When Wiley stated over and over how she did not feel like she was to be the next victim, I got the feeling that I was reading the account of a very level-headed individual. I understood her logic for distancing her part in the downward spiral of a mad man, and that was precisely what could have caused her even more harm. Crazy people don’t always have a motive that makes sense. They don’t always have clear origin stories such as an abusive upbringing or head trauma knocking their good sense loose. I love that she addresses that because psychologists are always trying to find that angle.
To be honest, I was getting antsy to read the nitty gritty about the crime. But it was awe inspiring to hear the journey of how Wiley came to be the first elected African American female district attorney in Dallas County. And as a mother, I felt inspired knowing how hard she worked in her office, but that her harder and most fulfilling work was taking care of her family and giving back to her community.
I would have liked to have more information about the murders upfront, since that seems to be more of the template for true crime books. It felt weird to finally gain a broader picture of what each victim was like and what happened to them in a few pages right before the Epilogue. I wanted more than that.
I have always thought the photo placement in these books is strange (usually right in the middle of a chapter that has nothing to do with the pictures), and this one follows suit. I like that the photos are in color, but the captions could have used some copy editing. One of my pet peeves is identifying people in the photo out of order. If there’s two people, just name them left to right!
The pacing was good but some editing could have made this book more suspenseful. The lack of copy editing and proofreading resulted in redundancies and typos. For future reprints, I would recommend revamping the cover design as well. A story that took place in 2013 shouldn’t have a cover that looks like it was printed in the ’90s.
Overall, I think this book is a nice addition to the true crime genre and that readers will appreciate the unique point of view.
Erleigh Norville Wiley was born and raised in Kaufman County. She is a graduate of Texas Tech University, Rawls College of Business; where she received a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree with a degree in Finance. She attended law school at Texas Law at The University of Texas in Austin receiving her Doctorate of Jurisprudence.
In 1990, Judge Wiley joined the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office. Her goal was to prosecute the criminals and protect innocent children and victims who have no voice. She was promoted to supervising attorney-training other new attorneys and managing fourteen different courts.
Wiley takes an active role in her community by volunteering. Some of her board work includes Chairman of the Kaufman County Juvenile Board, Trustee of Texas Health Resources- Kaufman, Kaufman County Children’s Advocacy Center and Kaufman County Children’s Shelter Board member.

Wiley has been lauded by various organizations for her work in the legal community as a Judge and as the Criminal District Attorney in Kaufman County. Some of the most notable were in 2013, from the State Bar of Texas, Outstanding Leadership-Profiles of Courage Award and Texas District & County Attorney’s Association, Lone Star Prosecutor Award; as well as the Dallas Black Police Officer’s Association with the Paved the Way Award in 2015.


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3/16/18
Excerpt
3/16/18
Bonus Post
3/17/18
Review
3/18/18
Author Interview
3/19/18
Review
3/20/18
Author on Video
3/21/18
Author on Video
3/22/18
Review
3/23/18
Author on Audio
3/24/18
Author Interview
3/25/18
Review
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