Tag Archives: Dallas

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
Facebook     Twitter    Instagram  
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:
┃  Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble  ┃ IndieBound

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.


———————–

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
   blog tour services provided by
  

1 Comment

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

Review & Giveaway: Aransas Morning by Jeff Hampton

ARANSAS MORNING
by
JEFF HAMPTON
  Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life
Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 304

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.


PRAISE FOR ARANSAS MORNING:
“Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”

“In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”

“I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”

“Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”
“Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”


CLICK TO PURCHASE:
◾   Barnes& Noble  ◾   Jeff Hampton Writer   ◾   
  ◾   Etsy  ◾    Amazon   ◾   
300b2-review
For me, characters carry a book. If I don’t care about the characters or find them impossible to believe, I can’t read more than a few chapters. Hampton’s characters pulled me in; hook, line, and sinker. And there was even a beautiful pace in which each new character came along and the narrative followed them a bit.
Sam Barnes is a beatdown man who just bums around the beach. He works the odd job so he can eat canned soup in his tin can of a trailer home. Locals know who he is, but nobody really knows him. In retrospect, Sam asking a man who is staring out at the water what he sees is a bit out of character. But it’s this interaction that changes everyone’s lives.
When Hampton follows a character, he seems to write in their voice yet maintains that third person perspective. The tone shifts are truly remarkable. When we’re with Sam, sentences are short and details are sparse. Shelly’s first chapter is descriptive and the language flows. Dave’s chapter talks about the present but constantly circles back to Debby, his wife who passed away a year prior. When Sam collides with Dave, which rolls them toward Shelly, everything is set into motion. As the book progresses, it feels like a single voice has taken over the narrative; either Hampton’s alone, or all of the characters as a collective.
I found it sad that Sam was sort of a wake up call for Shelly and Dave. Neither of them wanted to end up like him, destitute and miserable, so they made big decisions to leave their old lives behind to find new ones. But happily, they wanted to share their new lives with this man who was so much more than he seemed. “He dreamed of being a king but he’d always just been a jester.” (p. 4) was a line that grabbed me.
It was amazing to watch such strong characters with fierce opinions and habits to come together and achieve a common goal. Who could foresee that this strength and ferocity would transform into loyalty, trust, friendship, and love? And I think one of the big lessons of the book is that you have to forgive yourself once you’ve already been forgiven by others. Other gems I have taken away are the importance of living your best life, handling business matters with integrity and respect, and marching to the beat of your own drum.
My only critique is that I wish Hampton didn’t spell out situations so explicitly at times. He literally tells us about a jealousy that’s not romance based- it’s pretty obvious. When there is some friction between two of the main characters, he tells us why they’re acting cold to each other when we could already glean that from the previous scene.
I highly recommend this book to people who love a good redemption or personal transformation story. I am glad to hear that there will be an Aransas Evening coming soon. I look forward to reading it.

During a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.
He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.
Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.
Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa Jack, When the Light Returned to Main Street, Jonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.
Watch for Aransas Evening, a sequel to Aransas Morning, in 2018. 
 ║ Website ║ Facebook  Twitter   
InstagramGoodreads ————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
FIVE SIGNED COPIES!
JANUARY 23-FEBRUARY 1, 2018
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

1/23/18
Promo
1/23/18
Promo
1/24/18
Guest Post
1/24/18
Review
1/25/18
Excerpt Part 1
1/25/18
Excerpt Part 2
1/26/18
Review
1/27/18
Review
1/28/18
Author Interview
1/28/18
Playlist
1/29/18
Review
1/30/18
Promo
1/30/18
Scrapbook Page
1/31/18
Review
2/1/18
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

 

1 Comment

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

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

Scroll down for the giveaway!

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. 


CLICK TO PURCHASE
Amazon ▪ Barnes & Noble ▪ iBooks ▪ Kobo

=================== ║=================== 

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. 


————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
December 5-December 13, 2017
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

12/4/17
Guest Post
12/5/17
Review
12/6/17
Excerpt
12/7/17
Playlist
12/8/17
Review
12/9/17
Notable Quotable
12/10/17
Excerpt
12/11/17
Review
12/12/17
Author Interview
12/13/17
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

 

1 Comment

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

Review: Guardians in Blue by Ken Bangs

GUARDIANS IN BLUE 
by
Ken Bangs 


Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date of Publication: March 31, 2016
# of pages: 382

 

A fatherless boy growing up in a small Texas town is taken under wing by the local lawmen. They work with the town leaders to provide his basic needs and help him escape the shame and poverty of his circumstances. One in particular becomes his guardian.

He teaches the boy about life, how to face his fears, that honor is more important than comfort and that defending those who cannot defend themselves is the highest duty of a man.    

 

The boy learns the lessons well. He hears the call and his heart opens to it. He too becomes a Guardian.

 

This is the novelized story of the authors’ thirty-seven years service in law enforcement and public safety. It is unique in that the reader is given an inside look at what motivates one to the calling and the process of becoming a police officer.

 

It is told from the first person perspective of one who walked a beat in downtown Dallas at the age of 19, answered the calls as a radio patrol officer and worked the cases as a detective.

 

It gives an inside look at the understanding of not only the criminal act but the issues that lead to criminality and the processes by which criminal justice professionals identify and apprehend those responsible for given crimes.  
Drawing on interviews/interrogations of criminals the author provides an exposé of the experiences, the anger, and the fantasy that captures the mind and controls the will of those who rape, rob, and kill.

 

PRAISE FOR GUARDIANS IN BLUE:

 

“As a man who was privileged to work the streets with Ken Bangs, I can tell you that he was the Guardian.  If you want to understand police work at the base level, then The Guardians is a must read.  It goes beyond the violence and the sensationalism and gives you a window into the hearts and souls of those men and women who ride toward danger when everyone else runs away.” 
Doug Sword, Captain of Police (Retired), Dallas Police Department

 

Guardians In Blue is an action packed book about actual crimes from the Dallas Police

 

files.  These cases as retold by Ken bangs come alive in a format that makes you feel


like you are at the location and involved in the investigations.” 
Gary Holly, Retired Police Officer
 
“The story is so realistic; it so reveals the rawness of life experienced by a police officer that any who have ever worn the badge will be drawn in as they see themselves in the Guardians.” — G. David Payne, Lieutenant of Police (Retired), Dallas Police Department

 

  PURCHASE LINKS:
  AMAZON        BARNES & NOBLE

BLACK ROSE WRITING

Review
Although this is a novelized version of Bangs’ life as a police officer, you get a very real sense of what it might have been like to be him. When a police officer comes to his aid as a child, you start to understand that law enforcement has to make judgement calls every day, and they just hope that they’ve made the right one. Seeing how much K.W. cares about the safety of the people under his protection, I think that the police officer made the right call for turning a blind eye all those years ago. I’m not a fan of small-town thinking, but the men in that town rallied around a little boy and made sure he grew up to be a good man.
I hadn’t thought much about what kind of “razzing” or hazing police officers go through, but I thought it was pretty funny. And when K.W. becomes a trainer himself down the line, the jokes and old stories come full circle. I suppose it’s as much character building as a bonding experience. It also made me think that all the crap he took from his senior officers prepared him for the army as well.
Bangs paints a vivid portrait of a town I’m not too familiar with (Dallas) at a time I wasn’t yet conceived. But I’ve watched some old copper shows, and found his stories much more interesting. Some of the bad guys made my spine tingle in a bad, bad way. The descriptions made my nose wrinkle a few times since Bangs often liked to describe the stench of someone’s bowels letting loose in death. But that’s real, right? And I like that he admits to his rookie mistakes and has to often write “Dear Chief” letters as a result.
The story of an officer losing his life after not following the protocol of his beat and not working the safety properly, was sobering. It gave me a deeper respect for all the training and regulations that police officers have to follow. Also, seeing how dangerous it can be to train a rookie opened my eyes. With all the negativity toward law enforcement lately, I think that people don’t realize how nerve-wracking it is to be on the firing end of a gun. That an officer might have only a split second to react, which might end with his/her own death or an innocent civilian’s.
My only notes on this book: K.W. knew at age 10 that he wanted to be a police officer and to find a Godly woman to marry. I wanted to know more about his wife. Maybe the next novel?

Ken spent 35 years in public safety. A veteran of the United States Army, he was with the military police in the Alaskan Command.  He holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Sam Houston State University, M.S. in Human Relations / Business Management from Amberton University, and a Doctorate of Ministry in Christian Counseling from Jacksonville (Florida) Theological Seminary.  Ken and his wife, Trudy, have been married 46 years. They live in McKinney, Texas.

 

Check out the other great blogs on the tour! 

6/28     My Book Fix Blog – Review
6/29     Books and Broomsticks – Excerpt #1
6/30     Missus Gonzo  – Review
7/1       The Crazy BooksellersPromo
7/2       StoreyBook Reviews  Author Interview #1
7/3       The Librarian TalksReview
7/4       It’s a Jenn World – Guest Post
7/5       The Page Unbound  – Excerpt #2
7/6       Country Girl Bookaholic  – Review
7/7       Margie’s Must Reads Author Interview #2

 

   blog tour services provided by
  

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Lone Star Book Blog Tours