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

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

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


Genre: Historical Fiction

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


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

  

300b2-review

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

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

THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE
by
M.M. Wolthoff


  Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age

 

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

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


 

***


PRAISE FOR THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE:

 

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

 

 


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Giveaway: Moved, Left No Address by Vickie Phelps

 

MOVED, LEFT NO ADDRESS

 

 

by


Vickie Phelps

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 
 

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For the Record by Regina Jennings

FOR THE RECORD

 

by

 

Regina Jennings

 

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

 

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

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

 


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

Author Interview 1: Regina Jennings

Where did your love of books and storytelling come from?

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

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

How long have you been writing?

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

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

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

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

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

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

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

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

What are some day jobs that you have held?  

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

What do you like to read in your free time?

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


 

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


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Review: The Island of Lost Children by Kim Batchelor

THE ISLAND OF 
LOST CHILDREN
Book 1
REIMAGINING THE STORY OF 
PETER & WENDY
by
Kim Batchelor
 
Genre: Middle Grade / Fairy Tale / Fantasy
Publisher: Luna y Miel Publishing
Date of Publication: November 9, 2013
Number of Pages: 188

 

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Peter is still the boy who doesn’t grow up. Wendy is a girl who had to grow up too soon. And Wendy’s brother, Michael, has autism and a connection to The Island of Lost Children, a book for readers 8-12 and any fan of Peter Pan. When Peter leaves his island home, it’s to search for pick-up soccer games and mock sword fights. Wendy spends her evenings looking after her two brothers—sometimes bratty JJ as well as Michael—while her parents work nights. In the midst of several unusual events including the disappearance of her classmate, Lily, at odds with her adoptive mother, Wendy doesn’t realize that Peter’s pirate nemesis is keeping an eye on her. Everything changes for Wendy and her family when a peculiar fairy named Bellatresse helps Peter find the girl whose stories he once listened to outside her bedroom window. 
With its quirky humor and occasionally touching moments, The Island of Lost Children is about children creating their own stories, families, and communities, all while swashbuckling, navigating mystical rivers, riding child-made roller coasters, and, of course, sailing high through the open skies.
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300b2-review 

There are so many great things about this book. Where to begin? First off, I LOVE reimaginings. Even when they’re not entirely successful, I still appreciate the creativity needed to see a different angle of such well-loved and well-known stories. Up until now, the only reimagining of Peter Pan that I’m familiar with, if you can call it that, is the movie Hook. So please excuse that some of the comparisons that I make are more with that movie than the original text; which I am ashamed to say that I don’t remember in great detail.

The cover is beautiful and the style of it gave me the impression that maybe the ethnicities of the characters would be played with. I don’t know if it’s the cocoa color of Peter’s skin and the dark hair, or maybe even just the style of the artwork that gave me that idea. As if to answer my unspoken question, the opening scene features a family praising their son Miguel as he plays soccer.

This is where I get confused for the first time. I knew that Wendy has two brothers, Michael and John. So I thought for a few pages that Miguel was Wendy’s brother, so there would be a Juan and whatever the Spanish equivalent of Wendy, right? Oops, I outed myself for stereotyping. Miguel is not Michael. The ethnicity of the family is ambiguous. I was a little let down by that, but the other types of diversity to be revealed made up for it.

The Darlings are a more realistic family in this version. The parents are quarreling over money and careers (hey, that’s sort of what happened in Hook, too), Wendy is having to play mom to her two younger brothers because their parents work all the time, and Michael has a cognitive disability. Also, poor Nana runs away when Mr. Darling tries to take her to an animal shelter. These Darling children have more reasons to want to run to Neverland than the originals, that’s for sure.

I don’t want to ruin the story but I will share that how Captain Hook enters the story is an interesting choice. His target for revenge didn’t make much sense to me though, and when everything gets more or less resolved, I don’t understand why someone isn’t arrested or interrogated at least. I guess because this is supposed to be a children’s story? Okay, I’ll chill.

I like the added dimensions to Lily (although I wonder if people would prefer she had stayed Native American), and not to mention the number of girls in Neverland! It always bothered me that Tiger Lily and Tink seemed to be the only girls in the original. Well, mermaids too if you count them (I didn’t). Batchelor topped Hook with that addition. However, the invisible feast and rollercoasters sounded a lot like Hook. Unless that stuff was in the original, too, and I just forgot. My apologies if they are.

I really liked the tender moments between Wendy and Michael, and how Michael had his peaceful spot in Neverland. I imagine this could open up dialogue about being sensitive to individual needs. Also, finding joy and hope in milestones reached. I closed this book feeling like I understood Wendy and Michael. Sadly, JJ fell by the wayside. Typical middle child, I guess.

What are my favorite moments? I think that Batchelor pokes fun at the Tinkerbell character, Bellatresse, by emphasizing her erratic behavior and thinking. Peter and Trudy pretty much say that the fairy does things for no apparent reason and that they’re not sure whether she really likes them or not. Maybe I’m wrong though. Maybe she’s just supposed to be bipolar. Or all the sugar just made her cray cray.

And Peter thinking he’ll miss Wendy because she’s like a sister? Pffft. Let’s not let our reimaginations run away now.

Kim Batchelor writes books for children and adults, stories both real and fantastical, foreign and domestic. She has been published in the Texas Observer, The Best of Friday Flash, and local literary journal, Contexas. She teaches creative writing to incarcerated women and lives in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, with a spouse, two dogs, and way too many cats. One of her prized possessions is a busted tambourine given to her by Eddie Vedder. Okay, he tossed it to her in a dark stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, but the real story is never as interesting as the one she makes up.

 

  

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Review: Whisper Hollow by Chris Cander

WHISPER HOLLOW

 

by

 

Chris Cander
Genre: Literary Fiction / Friendship
Publisher: Other Press
Date of Publication: March 17, 2016
Number of Pages: 400

 

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Set in a small coal-mining town, Whisper Hollow is full of secrets, love, and betrayal, where Catholicism casts a long shadow and three courageous women make choices that will challenge our own moral convictions.
            One morning in Verra, a town nestled into the hillsides of West Virginia, the young Myrthen Bergmann is playing tug-of-war with her twin, when her sister is killed. Unable to accept her own guilt, Myrthen excludes herself from all forms of friendship and affection and begins a twisted, haunted life dedicated to God. Meanwhile, her neighbor Alta Krol longs to be an artist even as her days are taken up caring for her widowed father and siblings. Everything changes when Myrthen marries the man Alta loves. Fourteen years later, we meet Lidia, a teenage girl in the same town, and her precocious son, Gabriel. When Gabriel starts telling eerily prescient stories that hint at Verra’s long-buried secrets, it’s not long before the townspeople begin to suspect that the boy harbors evil spirits—an irresistible state of affairs for Myrthen and her obsession with salvation. Rendered in exquisite prose, Whisper Hollow is an extended reflection on guilt, redemption and the affirmation of life in this early 20th century Appalachian community.
PRAISE FOR WHISPER HOLLOW . . .

 

~Kirkus Reviews (STARRED REVIEW)
“Cander divinely delves into multiple points of view, crafting a collage of vibrant, layered characters while charting six decades of poignant, precise moments. A distinctive novel that sublimely measures the distressed though determined heartbeat of a small mountain community.”
~Shelf Awareness (STARRED REVIEW)
“Cander weaves together the stories of these varied characters across nearly five decades with skill and grace, and in her hands, Whisper Hollow grows into much more than the sum of its many parts. The result is a memorable novel about the bonds of town and family, the strength of friendships in unlikely places and the power of secrets to shape a life–or many lives–often without anyone even recognizing it.”
~Booklist
“Cander superbly envisions the town, its residents’ dynamics, and the early twentieth-century immigrant experience…[and] rewards the reader with…well-developed, believable characters whose mental fortitude and capacity to love linger in the reader’s mind long after the last page.”
~Publishers Weekly
“[Whisper Hollow] is inextricably rooted in West Virginia coal country—the rough locale that determines and intertwines [Cander’s] characters’ fates…Cander closely tracks how Myrthen’s and Alta’s romantic decisions unknowingly complicate each other’s lives in the lead-up to a tragic incident that bisects the novel…[and] admirably captures the lack of choice that men and women have in rural West Virginia.”
~Library Journal
“Spare, elegant writing by the author of 11 Stories evokes a bleak atmosphere and creates a smooth, compelling narrative… much of the prose is so outstanding, this writer is clearly gifted.  Give this literary, plot-driven novel to those who enjoy the West Virginia setting and who like a gentle handling of their tragedies.”

 

 

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300b2-review
Just the title, “Whisper Hollow” has an eeriness to it that lets you brace yourself for tragedy. The opening scene of two immigrants seeking a new life in America seems to ride against that feeling, but it comes back in full force when Cander tells you that there is something up with one of the 5-year-old twins conceived by those immigrants. When the twin girls fight over a rag doll, you wince in anticipation of catastrophe. And you know the “bad” twin will come out on top.
The story often jumps forward in time to another character and you’re not sure how it will all tie together. But Cander’s language is so descriptive and lovely that you don’t mind reading on for a while to see how the new storyline ties in with the last.
Alta is described as not being particularly pretty or memorable, but I was drawn to her immediately. Perhaps because I felt overlooked growing up as well. I was excited on her behalf when the object of her affection notices her, but held back a little because I sensed that things weren’t going to tie up nicely between them. In the spirit of not spoiling anything, I will leave it at that.
I’ve never really thought about just how much a single industry can mean everything to a town. The coal mines are the means by which men provide for their families, but it’s also a profession that many try to avoid because it is so perilous. And while mining was steady work for many, even more would meet their demise from black lung or accidents.
Cander doesn’t go into too much detail down in the mines, but the coal dust is almost a secondary character that is painstakingly difficult to escape. Much like guilt, it is difficult to remove from the crevices of one’s hands.
Guilt is the driving force behind so many things in this novel. Guilt of passion leads to a loveless marriage, while the guilt of infidelity keeps a different couple in a loveless marriage as well. There is plenty of guilt all around, some earned and some not. The guilt of harming others while hiding behind God and religion is the one that annoyed me the most. I know that’s not fair, but I have less patience for that sort of thing.
 I really can’t enthuse how much I enjoyed this novel without giving away something important. So let me just say that while I prefer happy endings, I am happy with this ending. I enjoyed every moment of this book. Not a word or sentence were squandered to tell such an outstanding story.

 

Chris Cander is a novelist, children’s book author, screenplay writer, and writer-in-residence for Houston-based Writers in the Schools. Her novel Whisper Hollow was selected as an Indie Next pick and nominated for the 2015 Kirkus Prize in fiction and her award-winning novel 11 Stories was included in Kirkus’s best indie general fiction of 2013. Her children’s book The Word Burglar received the silver 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for Reading Skills & Literacy. Her animated feature film Germs! is currently in pre-production with Cinsesite in partnership with Comic Animations. Chris well knows that the pen is mightier than the sword, but she’s willing to wield one of those, too. A former fitness competitor and model, she currently holds a 3rd dan in taekwondo and is a certified ICSU Women’s Defensive Tactics Instructor. She is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Author’s Guild, the Writers’ League of Texas, PEN, and MENSA.

  
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September 13September 22, 2016

 

 

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

 

9/26
Author Interview 1
9/27
Review
9/28
Video Guest Post
9/29
Author Interview 2
9/30
Review
10/1
Excerpt
10/2
Promo
10/3
Review
10/4
Author Interview 3
10/5
Review

 


 


 

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Guest Post #1: Hurt by Catherine Musemeche

HURT
The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care
by
Catherine Musemeche, M.D.
Genre: Medicine / Medical History
Date of Publication: September 6, 2016
Publisher: ForeEdge
# of pages: 268

The heroic story of the invention of trauma care, from
battlefield triage to level 1 trauma centers
Trauma is a disease of epidemic proportions that preys on the young, killing more Americans up to age thirty-seven than all other afflictions combined. Every year an estimated 2.8 million people are hospitalized for injuries and more than 180,000 people die.
We take for granted that no matter how or where we are injured, someone will call 911 and trained first responders will show up to insert IVs, stop the bleeding, and swiftly deliver us to a hospital staffed by doctors and nurses with the expertise necessary to save our lives. None of this happened on its own.
Told through the eyes of a surgeon who has flown on rescue helicopters, resuscitated patients in trauma centers in Houston and Chicago, and operated on hundreds of trauma victims of all ages, Hurt takes us on a tour of the advancements in injury treatment from the battlefields of the Civil War to the state-of-the-art trauma centers of today.

 

PRAISE FOR HURT: THE INSPIRING, UNTOLD STORY OF TRAUMA CARE
 

“Musemeche’s fast-paced medical history mixes the gritty reality of treating life-threatening injuries—including her own heart-pounding experiences as surgeon—with an unfettered optimism about what trauma care can now promise: an assurance that most people will survive even a devastating injury.”

 

—Publishers Weekly

 

 

“Hurt is a fascinating journey through the history of trauma care in this country. Musemeche’s unique ability to weave moving, personal stories with intriguing facts takes this book well beyond a great read. It is an education in the human spirit.” —Paul Ruggieri, MD, author of Confessions of a Surgeon and The Cost of Cutting

 

 
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*Book People* *IndieBound*

GuestPost 

Spinal Cord Injury: The Unplugged Power Main

Guest Post

By Catherine Musemeche, M.D.

 

About a month ago we got an early morning call that our friend Tim had broken his neck in a bike accident in LA. He was on a bike path, wearing a helmet and following all the rules when another bike came at him head on going the wrong direction. Tim was forced to veer off the path and into a fence. And that’s when it happened. His third cervical vertebrae, the shock absorber of the neck, couldn’t take the impact and snapped. Tim fell off his bike still clipped into his pedals and knew instantly that something was wrong because he couldn’t feel his hands or feet. Passerby came to his aid immediately but Tim was alert enough to tell them, “Don’t move me. I might have a neck injury.”

 

And that’s the way injury happens. It comes out of nowhere when we’re minding our own business on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and totally disrupts our life. Injuries are a part of daily life that we will never escape. There is no vaccine we can take to prevent them. There is no medicine that will magically make them go away. Once we get hurt we’re going to have to find a way to heal, just like the rest of the 2.8 million people in this country who are hospitalized every year for traumatic injury.

 

The spinal cord is the power main of our bodies. When it gets bruised, broken or severed it’s like the cord’s been unplugged. Almost always we will suffer some degree of paralysis temporary or permanent. And it’s a long slow process to get the power up and running again. If we damage just a single nerve in our bodies it can takes weeks to months to regenerate. Think of the spinal cord as a bundle of hundreds of nerves. There’s a lot golng on in even a tiny sliver of it, hundreds of complicated nerve impulses crisscrossing in a tight space signaling when to move, to feel, to breathe.

 

Tim was in the ICU for a week and then started inpatient rehab where he’s been for three weeks. He was finally able to type his first email night before last. Yesterday he walked thirty steps with assistance. He still has a long way to go but the way things stand right now, Tim’s one of the lucky ones and he knows it.

 

More on spinal cord injury in HURT, Chapter 13 “The Road Back.”

 

            Dr. Catherine Musemeche is a pediatric surgeon, attorney and author who lives in Austin, Texas. She was born and raised in Orange, Texas and attended Lutcher Stark High School. She is a graduate of the University of Texas in Austin, The University of Texas McGovern Medical School in Houston, The Anderson School of Management in Albuquerque, New Mexico and The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. Dr. Musemeche is a former surgery professor at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, the MD Anderson Hospital and Tumor Institute and the University of New Mexico where she was the Chief of Pediatric Surgery and Pediatric Trauma. She currently works in the field of regulatory medicine.
             In addition to publishing extensively in the medical literature, Dr. Musemeche has been a guest contributor to the New York Times. Her writing has also been published on NPR.org, KevinMD.com, in the anthology At the End of Life: True Stories About How We Die and in the Journal of Creative Nonfiction.  Her first book, Small: Life and Death on the Front Lines of Pediatric Surgery was nominated for the Pen American/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Award and was awarded the Writer’s League of Texas Discovery Prize for nonfiction. Her second book, Hurt: The Inspiring, Untold Story of Trauma Care will be published in September of this year.

 

Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

 

9/28
Review
9/29
Guest Post #1
9/30
Excerpt #1
10/1
Review
10/2
Promo
10/3
Author Interview #1
10/4
Review
10/5
Guest Post #2
10/6
Excerpt #2
10/7
Review
10/8
Author Interview #2
10/9
Promo
10/10
Review
10/11
Guest Post #3
10/12
Review
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