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Review & Giveaway: Bluster’s Last Stand by Preston Lewis

BLUSTER’S LAST STAND

The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax, #4

by
PRESTON LEWIS
  Genre:  Historical Western Fiction / Humor
Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Publisher: Wild Horse Press

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Events on the Little Bighorn might have turned out better for George Armstrong Custer had he listened to H.H. Lomax rather than trying to kill him.  To save his own skin—and scalp!—Lomax must outwit Custer and his troopers as well as face hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors swarming Last Stand Hill. 
At least that is how Lomax in his inimitable style tells the story in this humorous romp across Old West history.  Lomax’s latest misadventures take him from the Battle of Adobe Walls to Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.  In between, he’s a bouncer in a Waco whorehouse, a prospector in the Black Hills, a bartender in a Dakota Territory saloon and a combatant in the worst defeat in the history of the frontier Army. 
Along the way, Lomax crosses paths with Bat Masterson, Buffalo Bill, Wild Bill Hickok, General Custer, his brother Tom Custer and the troopers of the Seventh Cavalry as well as hordes of Comanche, Kiowa, Sioux and Cheyenne warriors, not to mention the most dangerous adversary of all—a newspaper reporter with ambition.

Told with Lomax’s characteristic wit, Bluster’s Last Stand puts a new spin on the Little Bighorn and its aftermath.  Whether you believe him or not, you’ve got to admire Lomax’s luck and pluck in both surviving one of the darkest days in Old West history and writing about the disaster in the latest volume of The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax.
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PRAISE FOR THE H.H. LOMAX SERIES:

“A new series by Preston Lewis features a protagonist, H.H. Lomax, who isn’t much of a gunfighter, horseman or gambler.  Instead, he is a likeable loser who runs into old western celebrities like Billy the Kid and the Jesse James gang, and barely escapes.”  Wall Street Journal
“It takes a special talent to write first-person novels based on the premise of ‘lost papers,’ but Preston Lewis is an especially fresh and innovative writer and he knows how to do it.”
Rocky Mountain News
Fans of the Western as a genre will delight in Lewis’ ongoing spoof of many traditions which fiction writers from Owen Wister to Elmer Kelton captured well enough to turn into key parts of our myths and folklore….Lewis’s wit is at times Puckishly wry, at other times bawdy in the manner of Chaucer.  It is always engaging.  Texas Books in Review
Several Old West historians have blessed the Lomax books as expertly crafted fiction. Dallas Morning News

 

300b2-review
Judging this “memoir” by its cover would be as big of a mistake as judging H. H. Lomax at first impression. Without the well-written synopsis or blurb to guide you, you could mistake this book for a cheesy spoof novel based on the title and artwork. And you would probably walk by and miss out on the funniest and smartest historical fiction book that I have ever read.
Lewis manages to bring levity to a story and a part of history that was rather tragic. The West wasn’t too kind on women and it can be shocking to think of how prostitution often was a more desirable position than being a married woman. Political corruption was rampant and fed racial tensions and uncertainty for all sides involved. Journalism appeared to be a joke early on. And, of course, the treatment of the Native Americans was appalling.
But everything wasn’t so cut and dry then, and Lewis underlines that fact with the wonderfully colorful character of H. H. Lomax. Although gold is the goal, the man is a true diamond in the rough. While the man lacks culture, he certainly has enough brains to make his way without having to rely on Forrest Gump-like luck. He has had so many sudden stops and starts in his life that I was surprised to find out that he was only in his mid 20’s. For some reason, I was imagining a man in his late 30’s or 40’s. Maybe I watch too many Clint Eastwood films.
Speaking of films, when you think of a western spoof, you might think of Blazing Saddles or something similar. Well, this reimagining of events leading up to Little Bighorn is far from corny. While there is some adolescent-leveled humor (i.e., fart jokes and nicknames), Lomax’s wit is often subtle and nuanced. It usually goes undetected because it is so unexpected.
I could write about Lomax for days but then the other characters would feel left out. With the exception of the bullies, Bonner and Quirt, I think that all of the characters are so much more than they seem. We definitely get to see that with Medusa and Buffalo Bill. If Lewis wanted to, he could write spinoff novels about practically anyone in this book (if they survived to the end) and they would be great reads. In particular, I would find it fascinating to read about the people who went against their culture’s grain, like the minister or Crazy Horse.
The pacing felt a little slow at times. About halfway through the book, Lomax is still working in Medusa’s whorehouse and I’m trying to figure out when Custer and the battle come into play. But looking back, the pace was perfect. The battle was short, so even a detailed account shouldn’t run up half a novel. If it did, I would have fallen asleep. Also, I think my favorite parts of the book were when Lomax worked in the whorehouse. I don’t think any men less than Lomax or Lewis could ever drag that sort of sentiment from me.
Even if you don’t care much for history, I think you will find this book entertaining. Lomax’s hilarity and heart of gold (see what I did there?) soften the blow of the harsh realities in this part of history, and make them interesting. Or if you want to set the humor aside, there are some provoking thoughts on morality and perception that might stir you up. I look forward to reading more about Lomax’s adventures.
            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including Bluster’s Last Stand published by Wild Horse Press.   
            Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in Lewis’s well-received Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series of comic westerns 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). 
            Lewis’s historical novel Blood of Texas on the Texas Revolution received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His western caper The Fleecing of Fort Griffin in 2017 earned him his third Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
            His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to True West, his short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, 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 a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Baylor University and master’s degrees from Ohio State in journalism and Angelo State in history.  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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3rd Prize: Bluster’s Last Stand

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Review & Giveaway: Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP
  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

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The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties. 


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300b2-review

 

Where to begin? I love everything about this book. I usually dislike books that rotate point of views because authors often don’t differentiate between the character voices. Or even something as basic as too similar character names often makes things confusing. This is not the case with Popp’s book. Each character is different and developed, and most importantly, interesting and believable.

 

I don’t know if it is because of the time period, but every person in this book is strong in their own way. Doctor Lyles takes the Socratic Oath very seriously and stands his ground against those who question his loyalty. Lucky McLaren has the most obvious strength, having fought in a war and his power and success in business. Mick and Cowboy seem to still be growing into their strengths, while the women in the story have an understated strength that I find inspiring. Margaret and Saint are foils, but both young ladies know what they want and work hard for it. Mick’s mother was a pleasant surprise to behold and as I’ve said before on another review, the infamous Bonnie intrigues me.

 

I really hate to give away too much about this book, but everything in it just works for me. I love the idea of a kid who has everything and is willing to throw it all away to follow his dreams. And while the Great Depression is hardly an idyllic backdrop for self discovery and reinvention, it’s nice that the rich kid sees what it’s like to live on the other side of the tracks and helps others less fortunate when he can. And it’s great to see pure, innocent love that is not tainted by material possessions or social statuses.

 

I know I’ve mentioned the strong ladies already, but I feel like Nana Michelle deserves a paragraph of her own. The woman is a wonderful, walking contradiction. So much strength while physically frail. She stands on uppity traditions like hot English tea despite the heat of the South, but will let barn animals into her fancy home during a crisis. She was a dutiful doctor’s wife but took it upon herself to learn to do medical procedures as well. Sweet and shrewd. I hope to be as interesting as her one day.

 

I know that Margaret is only 15, with Mick, Cowboy, and Saint all around there somewhere in age too, so I can’t help but be amazed at the things they accomplish. Fifteen-year-olds nowadays are practically infantile. They usually don’t make level-headed decisions in the face of danger. They don’t often know what they want to do with their lives, nor do they have the discipline to work independently toward achieving their goals. And the big one for me, they don’t usually know the difference between infatuation and true love. People in the past were made of tougher stuff, so maybe they see things more clearly than we do, and sooner.

 

Maybe I morbidly romanticize this time in history, but I’m a big fan of the ingenuity and pulling up of one’s bootstraps that Depression survivors do. Up Near Dallas is a great piece of historical fiction and I plan to read the other installments. I also plan to hunt down some music from the time period because my interest has certainly been piqued.

 

 

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission. 


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Review & Giveaway: The Secret Room by John Alexander

THE SECRET ROOM
(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by
JOHN ALEXANDER
  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book
Date of Publication: October 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.




PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM:
“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

 “The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

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300b2-review
At the risk of sounding ageist and/or sexist, I am impressed when authors can write from a completely different generation’s or opposite gender’s point of view. Alexander pulls it off effortlessly and tells a great mystery with some history woven in. Given the popularity of series such as American Girls and The Boxcar Children, I think he picked a great niche.
I don’t know if all of the books in the Amber-Autumn Series feature black and white photos like this one, but I love how they add more depth to the story and a bit of creepiness to it; much like the photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. While the photos in the Ransom Riggs series are truly odd and creepy, I like how The Secret Room’s photos are just scenic but still somehow send a shiver down your spine.
I wonder if this series is similar to The Boxcar Children in that the first book is sort of the origin story and the following books just assume that you have read the first one. Either way, I found it interesting that this book doesn’t clue you in to what these girls look like, what their ethnicity might be. I don’t know if Alexander did this intentionally, but I could see how doing so would allow little girls to insert themselves into the story. The ambiguity distracts me as an adult, but as a kid I think I would appreciate it.
The writing style is clean and the characters are believable. I noticed that all of the main characters are women. As an adult, I can’t help but wonder if this was intentional and what it might be indicative of.
I recommend this book especially to kids who solve mysteries easily. I double dare them to guess the ending.

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.
John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.
John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.
After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.
WEBSITE  FACEBOOK PINTEREST
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Review & Giveaway: Death at Thorburn Hall by Julianna Deering

DEATH AT THORBURN HALL

A Drew Farthering Mystery, #6

by
JULIANNA DEERING
  Genre: Historical British Mystery / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 336

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Investigating a suspicious accident leads Drew on a path that points to international intrigue and ever-growing danger

Drew Farthering arrives in idyllic Scotland for the 1935 British Open at Muirfield, hoping for a relaxing holiday with his wife, Madeline, and friend Nick. But death meets him once again when Lord Rainsby, their host at Thorburn Hall, is killed in a suspicious riding accident–only days after confiding in Drew his fears that his business partner was embezzling funds.

Thorburn Hall is filled with guests, and as Drew continues to dig, he realizes that each appears to have dark motives for wanting Rainsby out of the way. Together with Madeline and Nick, he must sort through shady business dealings, international intrigue, and family tensions to find a killer who always seems to be one step ahead.



PRAISE FOR DEATH AT THORBURN HALL:

“Amateur sleuthing at its finest!”–Fresh Fiction Review

“Another great mystery headed by the charming Drew Farthering and his intelligent wife, Madeline. There is murder, mystery, intrigue and a little romance, which makes Death at Thorburn Hall a most enjoyable read . . . The plot has twists, turns and a few surprises throughout the story. Deering is at her best when penning Drew Farthering mysteries.”–RT Book Reviews
“This sixth series entry will delight Agatha Christie fans.”
Library Journal

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I don’t know what it is about this book that brings to mind authors like Evelyn Waugh and Bernard Malamud, but it reads instantly like a classic. I think I’m not the only one who thinks so since the cover art chosen is also very classic. The premise – bougie people spending the week in Scotland watching a golf tournament – super classic.
But don’t make the mistake in reading classic as boring or predictable. Deering does a masterful job of building this world of interesting characters. I especially like the relationship between Drew and Madeline. While we aren’t filled in too much about what has happened in the previous books, we can gather that the couple has been through the wringer together. I love that Madeline bravely stands by her husband and refuses to cower in fear. Nick and Carrie seem to have a hard time reconnecting because Carrie is still traumatized by past events. It is truly agonizing trying to will those two together.
There are a few more couples in the book but more than a few complicated storylines that tie everyone together. The first murder and each mishap that follows threatens to sever those lines, making the motive and the murderer more elusive than ever. My first hunch was off but my second hunch was validated when one character met their demise. I’m curious to see if any of you readers get it right from the first. Deering does an amazing job of spreading breadcrumbs all around in a uniform fashion. No bait and switch here. And I’m so glad because that is such a cheap trick in mystery novels.
I’m tempted to blather on but I would hate to ruin anything. Let me just end this review by saying that there’s a pleasant reveal at the end. I definitely didn’t see it coming and it was handled beautifully. Read this if you want to immerse yourself into a perfect mystery novel.
JULIANNA DEERING (also writing as DeAnna Julie Dodson) has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness, and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching, and watching NHL hockey. Her series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuted from Bethany House with Rules of Murder (2013) and is followed by Death by the Book and Murder at the Mikado (2014). Dressed for Death (2016), and Murder on the Moor and Death at Thorburn Hall (2017). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books and Such Literary Agency.


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Review: Chicano Soul by Ruben Molina

CHICANO SOUL
Recordings and History of an American Culture
(Anniversary Edition)

by
Ruben Molina
  Genre: Music / Chicano History
Date of Publication: September 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 160
In 2007, Ruben Molina published the first-ever history of Mexican-American soul and R&B music in his book, Chicano Soul: Recordings and History of an American Culture. Ten years later, Chicano Soul remains an important and oft-referenced study of this vital but often overlooked chapter of the greater American musical experience. Chicano soul music of the 1950s and 1960s still reverberates today, both within Chicano communities and throughout many musical genres. Molina tells the story of the roots of Chicano soul, its evolution, and its enduring cultural influence.
“Brown-eyed soul” music draws on 1950s era jazz, blues, jump blues, rock `n’ roll, Latin jazz, and traditional Mexican music such as ranchera, norteño, and conjunto music. With its rare and gorgeous photos, record scans, concert bills, and impressive discography (to say nothing of its rich oral histories/interviews), it is one of those rare works that speaks to both general and academic audiences.
As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loves. Much of Chicano soul music’s recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.


PRAISE FOR CHICANO SOUL:
“[Chicano Soul} is nada if not revelatory… Molina seeks acknowledgement of this under-the-radar genre. With this book, he’ll get it. By linking the trail of Chicano soul bands to the route of the Mexican-American migrant workers across the United States as well as the migration of south-of-the-border families into Texas after the Mexican Revolution, the author presents a compelling account of rock and roll heroes literally unsung. Molina makes a case for teenagers who took their parents’ musical traditions, the trappings of black R&B bands with pop sensibilities, and channeled them into a vibrant sound that helped define the culture it sprang from.” —Austin Chronicle

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EXCERPT from the Foreword by Alex La Rotta, in Chicano Soul
Oldies are forever. It’s a mantra. A credo. A maxim for diehard sweet soul enthusiasts from Los Angeles to London, Toronto to Tokyo, and beyond. Ruben Molina’s The Old Barrio Guide to Low Rider Music (2002) and Chicano Soul: Recordings & History of an American Culture (2007) — its sacred texts. Not since Paul Oliver’s The Story of the Blues (1969) has a Book and author so distinctively revived a vintage and marginal American music culture from obscurity to widespread and cult-like revelry. What was once a niche collector’s category in the aughts and prior is a recognized subgenre in the twenty-tens: Chicano Soul. In the decade since its publication, Chicano Soul — like the long-lost recordings it so lovingly documents and historicizes — has itself become a collector’s item. Original copies highly-prized and sought after by record collectors, music aficionados, DJs, musicians, fans, and others. And, too, like much of the music in question: finally receiving its due reissuance. (Only this: a legitimate, not bootleg, reissuance.)
Its long-awaited return is timely. A brief review of the past ten years in popular music culture must surely include the massive reemergence of the vinyl music format (and its swift cooptation by the music industry); roots and vintage pop music revival (film/television soundtracks, documentaries, compilations, cultural histories, etc.); and the (ongoing) digital music revolution. Most notably, as it concerns the latter, one might also note the ascension of streaming media and video-sharing websites in democratizing and disseminating “rare groove” music of the analog past for broader audiences of the digital present. Further still, YouTube- and social media based soulero (sweet soul) DJs and record collector cliques build notoriety as prized possessors of rare Chicano Soul records to wide acclaim — much of which builds on Molina’s foundation. While the diffusion of music and cultural history in the past decade has broadened, the appreciation of this specific brand of soul music has expanded in tandem. You know it as the West Side Sound, the East Side Sound, Brown-Eyed Soul, Latin Soul, Lowrider Oldies, even rock en español — all components of the vast domain of mid-century Chicano Soul music culture principally documented in Molina’s work. And a book that remains today the only single monograph devoted to the subject.
            More importantly, Chicano Soul challenges the assumptions and stereotypes of what “Latin music” could or should be in both popular culture and preceding musical-historical analyses: tropical, exotic, and almost always, distinctly foreign. Unequivocally, this music is none. It is, as the subtitle denotes, an American culture. Molina’s meticulous documentation of over 400 Mexican-American musicians/rock-and-roll combos spanning the American Southwest (née Aztlán) — and their collective thousands of independent recordings — deserves recognition if just for its impressive magnitude. But it’s the paradigm shift that Chicano Soul, and other recent works from such scholars as Deborah Vargas, Roberto Avant-Mier, Anthony Macias, Josh Kun, and Deborah Pacini Hernández, among others, provides for the current discourse on racial identity, hybridity, and the origins of American popular music that warrant as much praise. In part, a response to the tired narrative surrounding America’s supposed black/white racial binary and the forging of a national culture. Yes: Chicanos made soul music. Lots of it. And it’s damn good, too.
300b2-review
To this day, I regret not taking that History of Rock and Roll class in college. But I feel like I got a great introduction by reading this book.
My knowledge of American rock and roll was pretty limited to begin with. So my knowledge of Chicano music was even more dismal. I grew up on Ritchie Valens music and watched La Bamba more times than I can count, but that was about all I knew. Molina caters well to people like me by setting a sturdy frame of well-known American rockstars and songs, then weaving the Chicano rockers and tunes throughout. I looked up some of the songs on YouTube, and that musical tapestry is quite beautiful.
Because the styles kept evolving and new musicians were constantly hitting the music scene, the sections of this book vary in length and depth. But the thread is never lost and makes for a complicated pattern in history. I felt one snag: Little Julian Herrera. I understand why Molina includes Herrera (aka Ron Gregory), but I find myself offended for Chicano musicians. While Johnny Valenzuela gave the guy a pass, I don’t. You can respectfully draw inspiration or shamelessly appropriate a style of music, but that doesn’t make you a member of that particular culture. And I certainly wouldn’t want someone outside of my culture taking the designation of first or founder of something important.
I like how scans of the actual records, album covers, handbills, and photographs create a colorful scrapbook. It is pretty amazing to see pictures from people’s personal archives (Molina included) that probably no one else in the world owns a copy of. Thank goodness that people took pride in their culture and history, and had the foresight to keep the mementos safe.
It would have been great to see a timeline (yup, like in history class) or even a map that showed the chronological movement of the music. Something like dashed lines that criss cross America, landing on cities with graphic representations of the person/group or particular style to originate there, along with the year.
I recommend this book to anyone with an interest in music or Chicano history. I hope that universities consider adding it to their rock history or Chicano history class syllabus.

As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loved. Much of Chicano soul music’s recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/09/17
Promo
11/10/17
Promo
11/11/17
Review
11/12/17
Promo
11/13/17
Review
11/14/17
Promo
11/15/17
Review
11/16/17
Promo
11/17/17
Promo
11/18/17
Review
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Review & Giveaway: Bombshell by Pamela Fagan Hutchins


BOMBSHELL
(What Doesn’t Kill You, #9)
An Ava Romantic Mystery

by
PAMELA FAGAN HUTCHINS
  Genre: Romantic Mystery / R-Rated
Date of Publication: July 11, 2017
Number of Pages: 236

Scroll down for giveaway!
Temp worker by day, lounge singer by night, single mom Ava is having a hard time breaking up with her long-distance boyfriend and making it without the support of her parents on the island of St. Marcos. Things improve dramatically when she lands a too-good-to-be-true job at a virtual currency exchange, where she meets a seriously sexy man, and goes to work for a boss so incredible he sponsors her on a trip to New York to record a demo. But when Ava stumbles across the raped and murdered body of a young woman, she recognizes her from a shared trauma back in their school days. Ava is devastated and throws herself into avenging the girl’s death. From that moment on, it’s one bombshell after another, going off closer and closer to Ava and the people she cares about most.


PRAISE FOR BOMBSHELL:
“Just when I think I couldn’t love another Pamela Fagan Hutchins novel more, along comes Ava. She’s smart and sassy, with a story full of juicy plot twists. I enjoyed Bombshell from cover to cover!” — Marcy McKay, author of Pennies from Burger Heaven 

“To finally get a whole book of Ava’s beautiful voice and attitude was so much fun. And then to see that her outer armor was mixed with the very real insecurities and struggles that we can all relate to was magical. She personifies bombshell in every sense of word and I can’t wait to have her voice in my head again in Stunner.” — Tara Scheyer, Grammy-nominated musician, Long-Distance Sisters Book Club
“Entertaining, complex, and thought-provoking.” — Ginger Copeland, power reader 

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CLICK TO PURCHASE
Review
It took me a few pages to realize that the typesetter didn’t leave off letters or entire words, but that the dialect was islander – as in Virgin Islands islander. Once I got past that little bump, I immediately fell in with Ava and her crazy life. I’m a little older than her, but I can totally relate to having a small child and working thankless temporary jobs when all you want to do is be a singer.
Kudos to Hutchins for believability and clarity. I could feel the oppressive St. Marcos heat and humidity. I could see how all the colorful characters soaked in the lovely sight of the voluptuous siren Ava. I could smell Ava’s aluminum-free deodorant failing her (been there done that!). And I could feel the repulsion from slimy men’s fingers trying to cop a feel.
I am also impressed with the progression of events and how it all ended. I knew the book is a mystery, but I was so wrapped up in Ava’s present situation that I didn’t even bother to try to figure out who was killing the dancers and why. Hutchins had me fanning myself over sensuous descriptions one moment to clenching my jaw as Ava remembers childhood predators. It was difficult to pry myself away from the present to look that far ahead.
If I actually tried, would I have solved the mystery? Probably not. The baddie(s) were so off my radar because of the circus that Ava has spiraling around her. And I admired her strength and bravery so much throughout the novel.
The only time my admiration faltered was when she actively pursued her music career. Maybe I’m a little jealous of a fictional character? Or maybe I’m annoyed that she finally had a stable job with which to support her child and she was being reckless with it by pursuing a pipe dream. She already didn’t spend much time with her daughter (who might have a slight developmental delay), and a life in the limelight would mean she would spend even less time with her. Sorry, stuffy mom rant ends here.
I really liked the end and encourage you to read the previous books to know even more about Ava and the people in her life. I look forward to reading any other Ava books that come out in the future.
Grab yourself a glass of red and settle in for a loooong night of reading. 😉

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long e-mails, award-winning and best-selling romantic mysteries, and hilarious nonfiction from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. 

Her What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series is Janet Evanovich meets Sandra Brown and a smidge of Alice Hoffman’s practical magic, featuring a revolving lineup of interrelated female amateur sleuths. She is passionate about great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, riding her gigantic horses, experimenting with her Keurig, and traveling in the Bookmobile.
WEBSITE   BLOG   PINTEREST
FACEBOOK   TWITTER
    INSTAGRAM   GOODREADS   AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

AWARDS

2017 WINNER Silver Falchion Award, Best Mystery

2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream

 

2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
FIVE SIGNED COPIES OF BOMBSHELL
November 1-November 10, 2017
(U.S. Only)
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1-Nov
Character Interview
1-Nov
Guest Post 1
2-Nov
Review
3-Nov
Video Interview
3-Nov
Guest Post 2
4-Nov
Review
5-Nov
Review
6-Nov
Excerpt
6-Nov
Guest Post 3
7-Nov
Review
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
8-Nov
Scrapbook Page
9-Nov
Guest Post 4
10-Nov
Review
10-Nov
Review


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Review & Giveaway: A Good Girl by Johnnie Bernhard

BNR A Good Girl JPG

A GOOD GIRL

by
JOHNNIE BERNHARD
  Genre: Southern Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Review Press
Website    Facebook
Date of Publication: March 7, 2017
Number of Pages: 288
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A Bible’s family tree and an embroidered handkerchief hold the key to understanding the past as six generation Texan, Gracey Reiter, prepares to say goodbye to her dying father, the last surviving member of the Walsh-Mueller family. The present holds the answer and the last opportunity for Gracey to understand her father’s anger, her mother’s guilt, and her siblings’ version of the truth.

The Walsh-Mueller family begins in Texas when Patricia Walsh leaves the famine of nineteenth century Ireland, losing her parents and siblings along the way.  She finds a home, love, and security with Emil Mueller in a German settlement near Indianola on the Texas Gulf Coast.  They begin their lives on a small cotton farm, raising six sons. From the coastal plains of Texas, five generations survive hurricanes, wars, The Great Depression, and life, itself.  
An all-encompassing novel that penetrates the core being of all who read it, A Good Girl pulls back the skin to reveal the raw actualities of life, love and relationships.  It is the ageless story of family. 

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!



PRAISE FOR A GOOD GIRL:

*2017 Kindle Book Award Finalist*
*Over 50 5 Star Reviews*
One of 2017’s best will surely be A Good Girl by author Johnnie Bernhard, who as much as any writer since Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, offers a breathtaking tour of the human heart in conflict with itself, desperately searching for grace and redemption in the face of unremitting loss.  Bernhard’s sentences are filled with the stuff of what blues and country music singers refer to as “soul” and “high lonesome.” 
–Jim Fraiser, The Sun Herald Newspaper
Relatable and real, A Good Girl speaks to the heart of what it means to be human and that generations come and go, but love binds us together.
Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of The Final Salute, Johnnie Come Lately, & Seven Wings to Glory
A Good Girl is a raw, real, and relatable gift to the soul on every level. Ms. Bernhard’s writing is so descriptive, reading this book is truly a visceral experience. One cannot help but reflect on their own family legacy and life journey. Prepare to be riveted by this heartbreaking, yet healing story about family, self-discovery and learning how to love.  
–Eva Steortz, SVP, Brand Development, 20th Century Fox

A beautiful debut novel across oceans and time, with a clear, objective yet poignant Southern voice. A timeless voice much like Doctorow’s Ragtime, A Good Girl is a true Southern American story. A story of one family spanning generations, dealing with love and loss, despair, and redemption, that leaves its readers with a timeless lesson.   
-Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, Author of The Shores of Our Souls and Moments on the Edge. 
I have found Johnnie Bernhard’s book to touch a powerful chord in my heart.  Masterfully written with deep insight into the journey of family and forgiveness, I’m a better person for having read this book.
-Cynthia Garrett,  The London Sessions & The Mini Sessions (airing regularly on TBN Network),  Author of The Prodigal Daughter

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Sales benefit Port Lavaca, Texas! Much of the setting of A Good Girl, a six generation Texas saga, is set in Port Lavaca, Calhoun County. During the Lone Star Book Blog Tour, all author’s royalties will be donated to the Calhoun County Museum of Port Lavaca in its recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey. Texas Proud! Port Lavaca Strong!
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300b2-review

Only recently have I begun to enjoy stories and the history of people across the pond, but I have always been drawn to pioneer and immigrant stories in American history. Bernhard’s story taught me a great deal more about these experiences than what was covered in my history classes. I had no idea just how oppressive the British were on the Irish and the false promises made to entice whole families to board coffin ships. Much like what Henry’s children came to realize, this book made me reflect on how different the hardships of the poor back then are from the poor now.

 

Although my parents’ immigration story is very different and my father was never an abusive drunk, I can relate to the dysfunctional family thing. Why is it that terrible traits like abuse, addiction, and adultery get passed on from generation to generation? I found myself wondering why the men never worked to break the cycle, but then I look at my family and see the same. And just like the book, it seems to be the women’s job to keep the family together and to encourage forgiveness. Why does it always seem that the women have the closer relationship with God as well?

Bernhard’s gift for storytelling let me ponder the deeper meaning of the story rather than trip over clunky dialogue or strapping myself in to suspend my disbelief. I feel like I could reach out and touch each person in this story. I sort of mentally catalogued each person under the categories of slap, shake, and hug. For the most part, I felt like I got to know each character as much as I wanted to, with the exception of Patricia’s mother and three brothers who were left in South Carolina. I know that their family line doesn’t extend down to Tom, Gracey, and Angela, but I hope that Bernhard might consider writing something about them one day. Perhaps they made it out ok but never got around to finding Patricia and poor Ana Grace.

I loved how time moved in this book. The alternating chapters of present and past worked together beautifully. And though there are many characters spanning several generations, it does not get confusing at all.

I am only beginning to learn this for myself, but I feel that the moral of the story is to forgive and let go so you can go and be happy. In church, forgiveness is a huge subject that is either glossed over or explained with the “forgive as the Lord forgave you”. But we’re not great like God; forgiveness is hard. And the truth of it is, forgiveness is for yourself too. Anger stored up inside will just fester and rot you from the inside out. That is something everyone can relate to, whether or not they believe in God.

 

             Johnnie Bernhard, a former AP English teacher and journalist, is passionate about reading and writing. Her works have appeared in the following publications: University of Michigan Graduate Studies Publications, Heart of Ann Arbor Magazine, Houston Style Magazine, World Oil Magazine, The Suburban Reporter of Houston, The Mississippi Press, University of South Florida Area Health Education Magazine, the international Word Among Us, Southern Writers Magazine, Gulf Coast Writers Association Anthologies, The Texas Review, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America. Her entry, “The Last Mayberry,” received over 7,500 views, nationally and internationally.  
            A Good Girl received top ten finalist recognition in the 2015 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, as well as featured novel for panel discussion at the 2017 Mississippi and Louisiana Book Festivals.  It is a finalist in the 2017 national Kindle Book Award for literary fiction and a nominee for the 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.
            Her second novel, How We Came to Be, is set for publication in spring 2018. It is a finalist in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition.   
Johnnie is the owner of Bernhard Editorial Services, LLC, where she writes book reviews for Southern Literary Review, as well as assists writers in honing their craft.  Johnnie and her husband reside in a nineteenth century cottage surrounded by ancient oak trees and a salt water marsh near the Mississippi Sound. They share that delightful space with their dog, Lily, and cat, Poncho. 
WEBSITE   GOODREADS
FACEBOOK   TWITTER   LINKEDIN

Johnnie will be on the road with A Good Girl at the following locations: 
October 26         Southern Bound Book Store, Biloxi, MS, 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., http://southernboundblog.net/index.html
October 27-28     Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge, LA, state capitol, http://www.louisianabookfestival.org/
November 4      Peter Anderson Festival, Ocean Springs, MS, Poppy’s on Porter, Washington Avenue, http://www.peterandersonfestival.com/
November 13     Live on KSHU Radio 1430 AM, Houston, Texas, 8 a.m. 
November 16     Calhoun County Historical Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas, 5 p.m. http://calhouncountymuseum.org/
November 18    River Oaks Book Store, Houston, Texas, 3 – 5 p.m., www.riveroaksbookstore.com
December 6 – 8    Words & Music Literary Feast, New Orleans, LA, www.wordsandmusic.org
December 10        Barnes & Noble, New Orleans, noon – 2 p.m.
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One lucky winner gets a signed copy!
October 26-November 4, 2017
(U.S. Only)
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

26-Oct
Excerpt 1
27-Oct
Review
28-Oct
Author Interview
29-Oct
Guest Post
30-Oct
Review
31-Oct
Notable Quotable
1-Nov
Review
2-Nov
Scrapbook Page
3-Nov
Excerpt 2
4-Nov
Review


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