Tag Archives: Historical Fiction

Review & Giveaway: All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 
Scroll for Giveaway!
 
All the Cowboys Ain’t Goneis the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness.
Purchase: Bookshop.org
Review

All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson surprised me in all the best possible ways. In my typical fashion, I didn’t read the blurb or summary before diving into this beauty, so I thought I was headed for a good ol’ Western. Y’know, cowboys on a trail ride, telling stories by a campfire, and maybe a saloon fight or two. So when we’re introduced to a young Lincoln Smith who gets busted for reading a book about the French Foreign Legion, I immediately knew that I had miscalculated and was eager to read on.

Jacobson’s knack for writing very natural dialogue allows each scene to play out cinematically in my mind. From the strict but doting former schoolteacher (Lincoln’s mother), to the devious and dishonorable Humberto Hill, Jacobson paints a clear portrait of each character and really breathes life into each of them. So much so that I was completely shocked at how much happened in the first part of the book, a scant 31 pages.

While Part One truly reads like a Western, Part Two has a more modern feel as we follow Lincoln through college and his stateside adventures. After a series of mishaps, Lincoln does what many others have done in his position. He remembers the dream of his childhood and, having nothing to hold him back, turns his dream into reality. Though the people who love him try to persuade him otherwise, our young adventurer is wise enough to know that life is too short to not pursue your dreams. With each new chapter of his life unfolding, Lincoln encounters interesting characters, both good and bad, and it’s entertaining to see how he handles himself in the various scrapes he gets into.

Part Three brings about another shift in tone as we arrive in Mur, as it is at the cusp of joining the modern world. Given that Lincoln romanticizes the place for being part of the old world, it is interesting to anticipate how he will feel once he arrives. And as the author envelopes us in this new place, it is difficult, yet exciting, to imagine how Lincoln’s story will intersect with King Suleiman’s. With each reference to legends, history, and archaeology, I have to admit that my brain immediately drew parallels to Indiana Jones. But I found Lincoln to be wiser and more grounded than Doctor Jones. Also, this book has me raring to do some of my own research on the French Foreign Legion and the history of men fighting for other countries to pay for their world travels.

This book might not be a typical Western (although to be honest, there are trail rides, campfire stories, and saloon fights) but I think that it is so much more. Much like the Alexandre Dumas books that are referenced, this book has a swashbuckling hero, true blue friendships, and romantic love that defies fate. It doesn’t read like a sequel, but I would love to hear more about what happens to Lincoln next.

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Goodreads / BookBub

Continue reading

1 Comment

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

Review & Giveaway: The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano

THE LOVE NOTE
by
Joanna Davidson Politano
Genre: Christian / Historical Fiction / Romance
Publisher: Revell
Publication Date: October 20, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
 
 Scroll down for the giveaway!
 
 

Focused on a career in medicine and not on romance, Willa Duvall is thrown slightly off course during the summer of 1859 when she discovers a never-opened love letter in a crack of her old writing desk. Compelled to find the passionate soul who penned it and the person who never received it, she takes a job as a nurse at the seaside estate of Crestwicke Manor.

Everyone at Crestwicke has feelingsmostly negative onesabout the man who wrote the letter, but he seems to have disappeared. With plenty of enticing clues but few answers, Willa’s search becomes even more complicated when she misplaces the letter and it passes from person to person in the house, each finding a thrilling or disheartening message in its words.

Laced with mysteries large and small, this romantic Victorian-era tale of love lost, love deferred, and love found is sure to delight.

 
 
CLICK TO PURCHASE

Review

The Love Note by Joanna Davidson Politano is the second book that I have read from this authoress. Much like Lady Jayne Disappears, this book has a lovely cover with an even lovelier story inside. From these two books alone, I gather that Politano loves 19th century literature and she is fully immersed in the period and culture when she writes.

Politano’s wonderful turn of phrase and complex characters place her on the same shelf as beloved authors such as Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. No one is exactly as they seem, and the sequence of events, I believe, will both please and bewilder readers. Personally, I like a good balance of strong, independent women who allow themselves to be vulnerable at times, allowing men the chance to feel like knights in shining armor at pivotal moments.

While classified as a Christian novel, I felt like this book did not preach at you. Sure, there’s a Bible quote or two, but I almost attribute that more to the time period than the author pushing a religious agenda. So if you’re on the fence about this book because of the label, I hope that I have convinced you to pick it up anyway.

I don’t know about you, but the first comparison that came to mind when I read the blurb was the movie Letters to Juliet. If you’ve seen that movie and enjoyed it, I think you will love this book even more so. Why? Because Willa Duvall is a more interesting character and just has this strength about her that you can’t help but admire. Because Politano has woven two different stories together that deftly wrap themselves around you, making it difficult to put the book down. Because the level of secrecy and the stakes are so high in this book, it is a thrill and a relief to reach the summit and just take it all in.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the journey to self-discovery and the winding, confusing path to true love. I look forward to reading more by this author.

 
Joanna Davidson Politano is the award-winning author of Lady Jayne Disappears and A Rumored Fortune. She loves tales that capture the colorful, exquisite details in ordinary lives and is eager to hear anyone’s story.
She lives with her husband and their two kids in a house in the woods near Lake Michigan. You can find her at www.jdpstories.com.
 
 
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Twitter  Pinterest ║ Amazon  Goodreads
———————————
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER: Copy of The Love Note + $25 B&N Gift
Card + Pack of 50 Love Notes Cards.
OCTOBER 27-NOVEMBER 6, 2020 
(US ONLY)
 
 
 
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
 

10/27/20

Book Trailer

Hall
Ways Blog

10/27/20

Review

Jennifer Silverwood

10/28/20

Character Interview

Reading by Moonlight

10/29/20

Review

Rainy
Days with Amanda

10/30/20

Top Five

Story
Schmoozing Book Reviews

10/30/20

Review

Carpe
Diem Chronicles

10/31/20

Excerpt 1

All
the Ups and Downs

11/1/20

Excerpt 2

Book Bustle

11/2/20

Author Interview

The
Adventures of a Travelers Wife

11/2/20

Review

The Clueless Gent

11/3/20

Guest Post

Max Knight

11/4/20

Top Eight List

Chapter Break Book Blog

11/4/20

Review

Missus Gonzo

11/5/20

Review

Jennie Reads

11/5/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

   blog tour services provided by
 
 
  

1 Comment

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

Review & Giveaway: Storms of Malhado by Maria Elena Sandovici

STORMS OF MALHADO
by
MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI
Genre: Historical Fiction / Ghosts
Publisher: Independently Published
Date of Publication: March 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 252

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

 

Galveston Island, Texas, September 2008 Katie doesn’t believe in ghosts. And she certainly doesn’t believe the rumors that her family’s home is haunted, despite its tragic history: two young women who lived there in different eras died in hurricanesone during Hurricane Carla in 1961, one during the Great Storm of 1900, the greatest natural disaster to befall the United States. But that was the past, a fact Katie reminds herself of when she returns to Galveston to await Hurricane Ike with her parents and boyfriend in her family’s Broadway mansion, hoping to rekindle her flailing relationship.

While Katie is not afraid of the ghost stories she’s heard, she is afraid of the monster storm approaching. As even die-hard Islanders evacuate, her fears grow—fear of the looming hurricane, fear that she’s talentless as a painter, fear that her relationship with her boyfriend is already over. As Katie struggles against her fears, the past whispers to her of the women who died there and the haunting similarities they share with Katie’s own life. 


Through three different timelines, Storms of Malhado weaves a story of Galveston’s past, underscoring its danger and isolation, as well as its remarkable resilience, and its capacity for both nostalgia and reinvention. Full of contradictions, at once insular and open to the world, Galveston Island is as much a character of the novel as Katie, Suzanne, Betty, their lovers, and their confidantes.
 
PRAISE FOR STORMS OF MALHADO:


“Taking place entirely on a beautifully moody Galveston Island, Ms. Sandovici weaves three simultaneous stories with ease. With a timeless tale, ethereal language, and complicated characters, readers will be entranced by this modern ghost story. How many times can the past repeat itself? How do we recognize people through generations? The author tackles this topic amid a backdrop of violent nature and intangible dreamscapes.” 

—Courtney Brandt, author of The Queen of England: Coronation, Grand Tour, Ascension

”Three women, three great storms, and one house, haunted by forbidden love and frustrated ambition. Get ready to be swept away by Sandovici’s foray into Galveston Island’s tempestuous history in this tale of lives intertwined across time.”
—Donna Dechen Birdwell, author of Not Knowing

CLICK TO PURCHASE
Amazon

Review

Storms of Malhado is the second book that I have ready by Maria Elena Sandovici. I read Lost Path to Solitude almost exactly four years ago and remember being very impressed with Sandovici’s excellent storytelling and her talent for writing natural dialogue. Those two traits are present in this latest book and Sandovici has certainly honed her craft to create such a fascinating story.

As a Houston native (a far north suburbanite, at the least) I was a little annoyed with Katie’s decision to leave Houston in order to weather the storm of Hurricane Ike in Galveston of all places. When Ike was about to hit, distant relatives of mine left Galveston to hunker down with my family, so Katie’s reverse evacuation didn’t make sense to me. But alas, there would be no story if she acted rationally. The story spans three different timelines and takes place in the same mansion on the Island.

I recall wishing with Sandovici’s previous book that she had used character names at the beginning of chapters when she switched POV because it sometimes became confusing. I was happy to see that she gave us the year and a short description of what was happening at each break in this book. I also was delighted to see that her characters had names indicative of the times that they lived in. Names like Desmond and Esmeralda feel distinctly 1900s while names such as Betty and Edna are perfect for the 1960s. Details like those are among the many that Sandovici thoroughly researched so that the reader could be transported without the rude shock of glaring inaccuracies.

Authenticity is obviously important to Sandovici as her vivid details of Galveston across the timeline ring true when compared to the photographs I have viewed and the stories that I have read in museums and historical landmarks. The relationships between the characters within each era and spanning across the three time periods are intricate and bursting with color. Which makes sense when you take into account that the main character and the author herself are artists.

I don’t want to go into specifics and ruin the ending for you but I felt like the point where everything merged felt a little too perfect, for lack of a better word. When I have read about similar phenomena in real life accounts or fiction, there usually isn’t so much clarity, especially when multiple people are involved. There, I will zip my lips now and let you see for yourself.

I think that this book would resound with practically any reader, but I think that it would truly affect those who are into the supernatural or very realistic historical fiction (the kind that borders on nonfiction when it comes to details). This is not your fluffy historical fiction, which you might have guessed since it takes place during times of devastation. However, I like how it leaves you feeling hopeful, like seeing a rainbow after the storm.

 

Maria Elena Sandovici is a full-time writer, artist, and gallery owner living in Houston, Texas. After obtaining a Ph.D. in political science from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 2005, her curiosity led her to Texas, where she taught at Lamar University for fourteen years. She felt attracted to Galveston Island from her first visit and lived there part-time for three years before her artistic career took her to Houston. 

 
Sandovici is a 2008 graduate of John Ross Palmer’s Escapist Mentorship Program, a program that teaches artists business skills. She resigned from her tenured academic position in December 2018 and opened her own private gallery space. Her previous works of fiction are Dogs with Bagels, Stray Dogs and Lonely Beaches, Lost Path to Solitude, The Adventures of Miss Vulpe, and Lone Wolf. She is also the author of Stop and Smell the Garbage, a volume of poetry in the voice of her dog, Holly Golightly. You can follow her daily adventures on her blog HaveWatercolorsWillTravel.blog.

———————–

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of Storms of Malhado
MAY 21-31, 2020
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:

5/21/20
Notable Quotable
5/21/20
Review
5/22/20
Author Video
5/22/20
Review
5/23/20
Playlist
5/24/20
Excerpt
5/25/20
Character Interview
5/25/20
Review
5/26/20
Review
5/27/20
Excerpt
5/28/20
Guest Post
5/28/20
Review
5/29/20
Scrapbook
5/30/20
Review
5/30/20
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

1 Comment

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

Review & Giveaway: The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER
HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3

by
MARGARET BROWNLEY
Western / Historical Fiction / Clean & Wholesome Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date of Publication: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 384
Scroll down for Giveaway!

He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . . 

Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation. 

 

Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

Review

The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley is the third book of the Haywire Brides series, but it is the second book of the series that I have read (I read Cowboy Charm School and loved it). Just so you know, I wasn’t concerned about missing the second one because a great author like Brownley can provide exposition as necessary or write a story that reads like a standalone. However, I do intend on reading The Cowboy Meets His Match when I have a free moment.

The first chapter might make you take another glance at the cover to make sure you are reading the right book. The tone is so serious without a hint of physical attraction between Texas Ranger Matt Taggert and the titular character, Ellie-May Blackwell, but that is Brownley’s style. She sets up that meet-cute in true grit fashion, with two strangers who are wary of each other for very good reasons. Even as some barriers break down and feelings start to surface, the bleakness of Ellie-May’s situation is not lessened just because love is in the air.

That is what I really enjoy about Brownley’s brand of western romance and what separates her from other authors in the genre. She doesn’t throw in a hardship or villain or two to make the story interesting. Brownley acknowledges that the time period was hard for everyone but especially so for a woman like Ellie-May. The author doesn’t hand out rose-colored glasses just because Ellie-May has a second chance at love. She creates interesting characters who have been grown in this harsh environment, showing us how some people will take what they think they’re entitled to and how others will do what they have to do to survive while still keeping their moral integrity intact. Striving to be the latter is a struggle and Brownley shows that it is not always easy to accomplish.

Brownley’s flavor of romance also tastes realistic, which to me is much more gratifying than the cloying love stories that flood the genre. The boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back motif is a common one in romance, but the stakes are usually comically low and they cheapen the love story. This is not the case with The Outlaw’s Daughter. Love and respect are hard earned, as they should be.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a great story with love and the Wild West in the mix as well. It reads like a standalone; so don’t worry if you haven’t read the first two books. But if you’re about to put this book in your shopping cart, you might as well save yourself another trip or delivery wait by adding the other two now. You’re welcome.

  

New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas. 

 
A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
 
◆  WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  
◆  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  ◆  BOOKBUB   
◆  GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE   







 ————————————— 
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
 TWO WINNERS each receive signed copies of the first two books in the Haywire Brides series, Cowboy Charm School and The Cowboy Meets His Match
  May 26-June 5, 2020
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:


5/26/20
Promo
5/26/20
Review
5/27/20
Review
5/27/20
Review
5/28/20
BONUS Post
5/28/20
Review
5/29/20
Review
5/29/20
Review
5/30/20
Review
5/31/20
Review
6/1/20
Review
6/1/20
Review
6/2/20
Review
6/3/20
Review
6/4/20
Review
6/4/20
Review
blog tour services provided by

3 Comments

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

Review & Giveaway: The First Emma by Camille Di Maio

THE FIRST EMMA
by

Camille Di MaioHistorical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

 

The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
PRAISE for The First Emma

“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana


“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
  Amazon  ┃  Barnes and Noble 
  Indiebound┃  Bookshop.org  

 

Review

It was love at first sight when I saw the cover of The First Emma by Camille Di Maio. The young woman in a pretty dress gazing out of a window promised me a lovely historical fiction, while the blurb teased me with a thrilling tale of infidelity, murder, and power. If any of those things appeal to you as a reader, then you will devour this book like I did.

The words “inspired by true events” always give me a little rush. I don’t know why that is, especially when you take into account that many fiction books and movies are usually based (perhaps quite loosely) on someone’s real life. But those four words seem to whisper a promise that the story you are about to hear will be that more shocking or inspiring because they are based on real life. I don’t know if I should be embarrassed to admit that I have never heard of the Koehlers or of their Pearl beer, but this book has stoked my interest to the point that I intend to read the newspaper clippings for myself at a later time.

Di Maio transports the reader into two timelines: back to 1914, before the United States joined the fight and prohibition loomed on the horizon, to nearly 30 years later, with the second world war that took most of the young men in our country, along with necessities like fuel and metal. Maybe because I have lived a sheltered life, I am truly fascinated by stories of hardship. I have never had to walk through slushy streets; I have never lived alone. I like to think that if I were ever tested, I would have strength like Mabel from Baltimore.

My warm affection for Mabel came about quickly but it was Emma’s observations that solidified that attachment into something more. Di Maio’s fluid writing style and emotional depth allowed me to connect with characters that I was a little wounded to find out later did not really exist. And working from very little source material, the author spins a plausible version of these events with an intimacy that I have never encountered in any other historical fiction or romance book that I have read.

Most historical fictions, while entertaining to read, often have a scene or two, or perhaps a character, that rings false. The First Emma does not have either of these flaws. You will be shocked to later find out just how much of this story was Di Maio’s imagination and how much was based on research. I really appreciate that the author’s note at the end of the book shares where the inspiration came from and her writing process.

There are harsh moments in this book, some completely true and some fictional, but I love everything about it. It is a seamless story of feminine intellect, strength, and great lessons on self worth and loyalty.

Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 
 

————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma 
May 19-29, 2020
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR
DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
Or, visit the blogs directly:

5/19/20
Promo
5/19/20
BONUS Post
5/20/20
Review
5/21/20
Author Video
5/22/20
Review
5/23/20
Excerpt Part 1
5/24/20
Excerpt Part 2
5/25/20
Review
5/26/20
Excerpt Part 3
5/27/20
Review
5/28/20
Review
   blog tour services provided by

  

2 Comments

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

Review: Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English

DESTINY’S WAY
A Novel of the Big Bend
by
Ben H. English
Historical Fiction / Suspense
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Date of Publication: January 18, 2020
Number of Pages: 363
 

Kate Blanchard woke up one morning in a dream home she could no longer afford, with a young son who needed a man’s influence, and not a friend among those who had claimed to be prior to her husband’s mysterious disappearance.

About all she had left was a ramshackle ranch along Terlingua Creek, sitting forlornly in the desolate reaches of the lower Big Bend. It was the only place left she could go. There she finds a home and a presence of something strange yet comforting that she can’t put her finger on or fully understand.

With that ethereal presence comes Solomon Zacatecas, a loner with his own past and a knowledge of her land near uncanny in nature. He helps her when no one else can and is honest when no one else will be, but she suspicions that he is not always completely so.

Yet her quiet, unassuming neighbor proves to be more than capable in whatever situation arises. That includes when standing alone against those who would take everything else that Kate had, including her life as well as her son’s.



PRAISE FOR DESTINY’S WAY:

“This is one of those rare books that you simply can’t put down. Ben English ‘s writing style is pure magic. He really brings this historical fiction book to life. Immediately, you are drawn to the main characters Kate and Solomon and feel as though you are right there next to them, experiencing what they are experiencing. Destiny’s Way is one that would do well on the Silver Screen.”
Catherine Eaves, published author“Ben does a superb job with this book! Excellent characters, true-to-life environment that is part and parcel of the story, twists and turns enough to make you wonder what is going on, and a slice of life down in Big Bend that rings true. That area has historically been full of ‘characters’ throughout its history, and Ben brings those characters into the book, raising the hair on the back of your neck. Highly recommended!”
J. L. Curtis, author of the Grey Man series“Ben, I love how your words and your memories reach out and connect the past with the present and touch so many people along the way. You are the connector! Bravo Zulu, my friend.”
Matt Walter, Museum of the Big Bend Curator



 

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
 Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble  
 Books-A-Million  ┃  IndieBound  ┃ Bookshop 
FOR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY: 
 ┃ Front Street Books ┃

Review

Destiny’s Way by Ben H. English quotes La Golondria, which is played during a dance scene in the book. I decided to fire up the version by Nana Mouskouri on YouTube to set the mood as I write this review. It is a lovely song to listen to and you get a sense of longing even if you don’t understand the lyrics. In retrospect, the longing and anguish of the swallow unable to return home can be understood by several characters in the novel, both living and nonliving.

The prologue is an action scene out of a good western – nothing flashy or corny – with grit and the grim reaper waiting in the wings. It is a very different scene and tone from the first chapter that takes place about 60 years later. English’s knack for writing exquisite detail takes a break from the tactical to give the reader a real sense of what the Big Bend looks and feels like. He takes us through Kate’s impression of the area to a geography lesson-like description and finishes off with a theological rendition of how the Big Bend was created. With just that one page of description, I understood how different that area was from anywhere else I have been to in Texas, but I could see how it comforted Kate in some way.

I wanted nothing but good things for Kate from the very beginning. Once you know what she has been through and had to overcome while raising a young boy alone, you can’t help but place yourself firmly in her corner. And it was a relief when Solomon the “Wolf” came into their lives. Don’t get me wrong; Kate is definitely not a damsel in distress. She is a very strong and capable woman with a very big heart. And when you adore a character with those qualities, you want them to be cherished and respected. English writes her so beautifully in stark contrast to the vile men who have nothing but bad intentions. And somewhere outside of that spectrum, the author gifts us with the enigma that is Solomon. I really enjoyed the characterizations in this book (even the baddies) but Solomon was so deep and wide.

The life lessons that Solomon teaches Jamie really resonated with me since I have a young son myself. I think that the code that he lives his life by is honorable and can be adopted by anyone regardless of gender or age. While their growing bond and Jamie’s transition to manhood are not the main storyline, they fueled my enthusiasm for the book because without them, Solomon would not be the protector of the small family and he likely would end up on the wrong side of the law to exact revenge. I have nothing but respect for people who follow through with their morals and lead by example.

In addition to writing quite a yarn, complete with spectral visitations, English very obviously knows his stuff when it comes to the locale, the animals, the weapons, and strategy. While I could have read hundreds of more pages about how Solomon helped Kate improve her home, I was truly gripped by the suspense and smarts behind the last act. English has a subtle touch when it comes to uncomfortable situations, so if you’re worried you can’t handle violence, don’t. I think that this book will appeal to many different readers: lovers of historical romance, historical fiction, westerns, you name it.

Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as a platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries. 
 
At Angelo State University he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, and defensive tactics.
 
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
 
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.

 ║Website ║ Facebook ║ 

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/2/20
Guest Post
4/2/20
BONUS Post
4/3/20
Review
4/4/20
Excerpt
4/5/20
Top 15 List
4/6/20
Review
4/7/20
Playlist
4/8/20
Review
4/9/20
Author Interview
4/10/20
Review
4/11/20
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Review & Giveaway: Blue Skies by Anne Bustard

 

BLUE SKIES
by
Anne Bustard
Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Date of Publication: March 17, 2020
Number of Pages: 224

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

Ten-year-old Glory Bea Bennett believes in miracles. After all, her grandmother—the best matchmaker in the whole county—is responsible for thirty-nine of them so far.

Now, Glory Bea wants a miracle of her own—her daddy’s return.

The war ended three years ago, but Glory Bea’s father never returned from the front in France. She believes Daddy is still out there.

When reports that the Texas boxcar from the Merci Train—a train filled with gifts of gratitude from the people of France—will be stopping in Gladiola, Glory Bea just knows Daddy will be its surprise cargo.

But miracles, like people, are always changing, until at last they find their way home.

PRAISE FOR BLUE SKIES:

“I loved Blue Skies so much I couldn’t bear for it to end.” –Patricia Reilly Giff, Newbery Honor author of Lily’s Crossing and Pictures of Hollis Woods

“A heart-warming (and occasionally heart-wrenching) delight of a book . . .” –Joy Preble, Brazos Bookstore

“A tender story of grief and the gentle comfort of loved ones.” Kirkus Reviews

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
┃  Amazon  ┃  BookPeople  ┃  IndieBound ┃

 

Review

Acting out of character, I had read the synopsis of Blue Skies by Anne Bustard before deciding to read the book. The bit about a boxcar caught my eye because there are a few stories that I have read involving boxcars that I hold very dear in my heart. There were no orphans living or being transported to a new life in this boxcar, but I think that it served as a representation of hope much like those other stories.

The cover of Blue Skies is lovely to look at. The blue is the exact shade of what you think of on a perfect day, with fluffy white clouds and white birds flying across the cover. A young girl in a pretty dress looks hopeful as she faces the same direction that the birds are flying to with eyes closed and hands clasped in front of her. Now that I have read the book, the choice of cover has the same flavor of those used for the Anne of Green Gables series. They are beautiful covers but they don’t hint at the firecracker of a girl contained within their pages.

Glory Bea Bennett takes her place among my favorite heroines with big hearts and spirit: Laura Ingalls, Anne Shirley, Jo March, etc. Much like Jo, Glory Bea is “hopelessly flawed,” but that’s what makes you love her even more. She is fiercely loyal to the ones she loves to the point that she might miss the cues that something other than the plans she has for them might be best in the end. Aren’t we all like that at one time or another? Ten-year-old and adult readers alike can use a reminder here or there that we can help the people we love up to a point, and then we are only there to support them in the end.

Bustard has created a wonderful community around such a vibrant character. I have always had a soft spot for the small town where everyone not only knows your name but they know all about your business. I was tickled by the moments when eavesdroppers would get caught listening in on the party line. And with all the cynicism in our world today, it was relaxing to read a story where the conflict arises from inner turmoil rather than a place of evil intentions.

To be completely honest, girls will probably gravitate to this book much like they do to Little House, Green Gables, and Little Women, but boys would also get something out of it if they’re willing to try. While the male characters are secondary, they are strong and not afraid of strong women. I could see this book being used in the classroom when discussing the aftermath of war or perhaps as an introduction to the French language. I wish I had read this book before my trip to Austin so that I could have seen the real life inspiration in person. I have put that on my list of things to do, along with reading other books by Anne Bustard.

Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Texas, and an MFA graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novel, Anywhere But Paradise, as well as two picture books, RAD! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year. Hawaii-born, she divides her time between Texas and Canada.

WebsiteFacebook

Pinterest

TwitterGoodreads

————————————-

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS
Each receive a signed copy of Blue Skies 
March 17-March 27, 2020

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

3/17/20
Notable Quotable
3/17/20
BONUS Post
3/18/20
Review
3/19/20
Playlist
3/20/20
Author Interview
3/21/20
Review
3/22/20
Guest Post
3/23/20
Review
3/24/20
Review
3/25/20
Top Ten List
3/26/20
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

2 Comments

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

Review & Giveaway: Out of the Embers by Amanda Cabot

 

OUT OF THE EMBERS
MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE
by
Amanda Cabot
Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 
Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.


At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.



PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!” 

Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series
CLICK TO ORDER ON:
Baker Book House  ┃  Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble 
┃  Christianbook.com  ┃  Books-A-Million  ┃  Kobo  ┃
 ┃ Additional Retailers ┃

Review

Let me begin by saying that I adore Amanda Cabot books and was so excited to receive this copy of Out of the Embers. When I got my first glance at the cover, I sighed in deep appreciation of the soothing colors, the lovely girl, and the beautiful expanse of bluebonnets on either side of a wagon-worn road. The picturesque cover promised me a happy ending to the bleak beginning of a young woman and small girl’s escape from a devastating fire.

On the surface, Cabot’s writing can sometimes seem formulaic like many romance novelists. The man doesn’t want to settle down, the woman is happy to be free of the chains of marriage, and then there is competition for someone’s heart. But much like Nicholas Sparks’ ability to write so many different stories of star-crossed lovers, Cabot is able to paint the portraits of reluctant lovers with varying brushes and strokes that transport you to a town that feels familiar but new at the same time. While her affinity towards portraying non-competitive female friendships forms another bridge between this series and the Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Cabot treats us to heartfelt relationships and individuals who are unique in the best possible ways. And to be quite honest, it is a relief to read about women who support each other rather than to tear each other down.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the men in this book. And now that I think of it, I do believe that the men in Cimarron Creek also got quite competitive when trying to win the heart of a particular fair lady. At times, I found the alpha competition to be a bit overwhelming, but Cabot would sprinkle tidbits here and there to connect the dots. And it’s by those connections that the reader is able to care about even the most seemingly despicable characters.

My favorite aspect of this book is the level of suspense that Cabot created. There were mysteries to be solved in Cimarron Creek, but the sense of foreboding in Mesquite Springs was on a whole other level. I made my predictions and was proved wrong time and time again. Cabot’s books are never terribly violent but there was a particular scene that made me gasp. There was definitely more of an edge in this book than the other series. Couple that with the teaser for the next romantic pairing, and I am fully committed to finishing the rest of this series. If you’re impatient like me, go pick up the Cimarron Creek Trilogy to keep you company until book 2 of Mesquite Springs comes out!

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

 ║Website ║ Facebook ║ 
BlogBookBub 
║ Twitter Goodreads ————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS
One Grand Prize Winner
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
+$25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
Next Two Winners:
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook 
+ $10 Starbucks Card
March 10-March 20, 2020

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

3/10/20
Notable Quotable
3/10/20
Review
3/11/20
Review
3/11/20
BONUS Post
3/12/20
Excerpt, Part 1
3/12/20
Author Interview
3/13/20
Character Spotlight
3/13/20
Review
3/14/20
Guest Post
3/15/20
Author Interview
3/16/20
Excerpt, Part 2
3/16/20
Review
3/17/20
Review
3/18/20
Excerpt, Part 3
3/19/20
Review
3/19/20
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

3 Comments

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

Playlist & Giveaway: A Texas Kind of Christmas

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS  
by
JODI THOMAS,  
Celia Bonaduce, & Rachael Miles
Genre: Historical Fiction / Anthology / Holiday Romance
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Number of Pages: 336 pages

Scroll down for the giveaway!

It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who’s anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicholas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season. It’s the kind of Texas night where anything can happen—even love . . . 

ONE NIGHT AT THE ST. NICHOLAS by 
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas
To escape her stepmother’s plot to marry her off, Texas heiress Jacqueline Hartman spends Christmas Eve sharing a hideout with an accused bank robber. After a night in Nathaniel Ward’s arms, Jacqueline is certain she has met her match after all. But will his heartfelt promise of love lead to his demise at the hands of the law?
BIRDIE’S FLIGHT by Celia Bonaduce
Seamstress Birdie Flanagan gets the surprise of her life when she receives a beautiful gown—and a sudden invitation—for the ball of the season! Birdie creates a stir from the moment she arrives, capturing the eye of the dashing Captain Douglas Fairbanks. But will a secret from her past keep her from her long-awaited happily-ever-after?
SPIRIT OF TEXAS by  Rachael Miles
When lovely spinster Eugenie Charpentier makes a trip across the Texas frontier with former Texas Ranger Asher Graham, she dreams of an adventure, and the rough-and-tumble cowboy is happy to oblige. But both Eugenie and the rugged lawman are keeping secrets. Can they find each other—and love—on the dance floor at the Christmas ball?
 

CLICK TO BUY

Playlist

Songs author Jodi Thomas listened to as she wrote
“One Night at the St. Nicholas”
In A Texas Kind of Christmas

LISTEN HERE FOR FREE ON SPOTIFY!
(SPOTIFY ACCOUNT REQUIRED TO LISTEN OR REGISTER HERE FOR FREE)

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” — Michael Buble

“The Christmas Song” – Nat King Cole

“All I Want for Christmas Is You” — Mariah Carey

“Let It Snow” – Jewel

“I’ll Be Home for Christmas” – Frank Sinatra

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and her historical anthology, A Texas Kind of Christmas (Nov. 2019). The first book in her new series with Kensington, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café, comes out May 2020. 

 

 
 

Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online www.CeliaBonaduce.com.

 

Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at www.RachaelMiles.com.

————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS
November 6-16, 2019
(US ONLY)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

11/6/19
Notable Quotable
11/6/19
BONUS Promo
11/7/19
Review
11/8/19
Scrapbook Page
11/9/19
Review
11/10/19
Author Video
11/11/19
Playlist
11/12/19
Review
11/13/19
ICYWW
11/14/19
Review
11/15/19
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

Leave a comment

Filed under Giveaway, Guest Post, Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Scrapbook Page & Giveaway: Tarnished Brass by Max L. Knight

BNR Tarnished Brass
TARNISHED BRASS
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Novella / War 
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 114

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

 

The war in El Salvador as seen through the eyes of a U.S. Army officer, a guerrilla leader, and a refugee turned gang member


Patrick Michael Moynihan finds himself returning to the small Central American country where, as a young impressionistic junior officer, he was thrust into the middle of a brutal civil war.
Miguel Alejandro Xenias, once a member of the ruling elite in El Salvador, recalls his change of heart, advancement within the guerrilla movement, and his new-found hope for the country now that the FMLN is in power.Antonio Cruz, seeking a new life in America, finds only a different kind of hatred and conflict, joins the street gang MS-13, and returns home bringing with him a new kind of warfare.These perspectives spotlight an ongoing struggle in El Salvador that continues to impact the immigration crisis on our southern border and the spread of gang violence throughout the United States.
 
More than just a history of the war in El Salvador, a conflict that ended almost thirty years ago, Tarnished Brass gives voice to those who fought and those who only wanted to escape the violence.
CLICK TO PURCHASE:

scrapbook page

1031 LORILEI UPDATED Scrapbook Page 2 of 2

Max Knight was born in Panama and grew up in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated from Texas A&M University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English. A Distinguished Military Graduate, he was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and served twenty-four years in the Air Defense Artillery retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

In addition to assignments within his basic branch, Max also specialized as a Foreign Area Officer in both the European Theatre of Operations (Germany and Greece) and within USSOUTHCOM (Panama, Honduras, and El Salvador). He received the Defense Superior Service Medal for his service in El Salvador during that country’s civil war. Max earned his master’s degree in government from Campbell University, and retired from the Army in 1997.

Upon retirement Max was hired by RCI Technologies in San Antonio and became its Director of Internal Operations. He also was the first volunteer docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department. However, following the tragic events of 9/11, he became an Independent Contractor and spent the next ten years as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Central America before cancer forced him to quit.

Max has since published a memoir, Silver Taps, and a novel of westward expansion, Palo Duro. He resides in San Antonio with his wife, Janet “Gray.” They have three surviving children; Lisa, Brian, and Sean, and three grandchildren; Tony, Nicholas, and Cecilia Marie.

║ BlogTwitterLinkedIn ║ Goodreads
 
————————————-
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One Winner: Signed copy of Tarnished Brass + $25 Amazon Gift Card
OCTOBER 29-NOVEMBER 8, 2019
(U.S. Only)

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

10/29/19
Promo
10/29/19
Excerpt
10/30/19
Author Interview
10/30/19
Review
10/31/19
Scrapbook page
10/31/19
Review
11/1/19
Playlist
11/1/19
Review
11/2/19
Review
11/2/19
Review
   blog tour services provided by
  

Leave a comment

Filed under Giveaway, Guest Post, Lone Star Book Blog Tours