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Review and giveaway: A Stolen Heart by Amanda Cabot

A STOLEN HEART
Cimarron Creek Trilogy #1
by
AMANDA CABOT

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Revell / Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: March, 2017
Number of Pages: 352
 Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

“Endearing characters, a tender love story, and intriguing mystery all work together to make Amanda Cabot’s A Stolen Heart a compelling and enjoyable read.”
—Margaret Brownley, author of Left at the Altar
Bestselling author Amanda Cabot takes readers back in time to the 1880s Texas Hill Country in her new historical romance novel, A Stolen Heart. This is the first book in a brand-new series packed with tension, mystery, and a tender love story that readers won’t soon forget.
Cimarron Creek seemed like an idyllic Texas town. But as soon as former schoolteacher Lydia Crawford stepped onto its dusty streets, she noticed a deep-seated resentment of Northerners—like her. 
That won’t get Lydia down, though. She looks forward to the day when she reunites with her fiancé—until she discovers her fiancé has disappeared without a trace and has left behind a pregnant wife. The handsome Cimarron Creek sheriff urges Lydia to trust him, but she is having a hard time trusting anyone in a town where secrets and suspense prevail.
Cabot weaves an elegant tale of pure love amidst heartache. With an absorbing plot and engaging characters, A Stolen Heart is a springtime showstopper fit for every historical romance reader.

 

Review
Lydia takes a leap of faith following her fiancé to Cimarron Creek. Etiquette of the times aside, Edgar’s hands were covered in blood when he proposed to her. That alone makes you wonder if things will work out the way she hopes. Despite being a scorned Yankee every step of the way, Lydia leaves behind the safety of a home and the security of a good job to follow the man she loves.
If the bloody proposal didn’t make you think that maybe Lydia was too hasty to say yes to Edgar, the handsome sheriff of Cimarron Creek certainly makes you think twice. The attraction is instantaneous at both sides. Every moment that those two are together and fighting their feelings is as delicious as the candy Lydia makes. I imagine. Oh, if only you could taste the food when reading a book!
Even though you can guess who Lydia ends up with, it is still suspenseful to see what has happened to Edgar. And you can’t help but hold your breath until you find out how he could have possibly fell out of love with Lydia, and into love with the plain Opal.
Cabot does a great job of using misdirection so that it’s not completely obvious who the bad guy is. I think some of the clues laid out are a bit too much, but the characterization of each suspect softens any hard conclusions I tried to draw.
This is another Christian book that doesn’t hit you over the head with God and the good word. I think that readers who shy away from the genre would like this book a lot. It reads like a great historical romance, not a Christian book that is trying to sell or defend the faith.
From a Christian point of view, I like that this book clears up the tussle between “Honor your father and mother” and cleaving to your spouse. I think that is not addressed enough in the church and many real love stories have fallen apart because of the confusion.
I genuinely enjoyed this novel and had difficulty putting it down. I am eager to read the next two installments.
 Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of At Bluebonnet Lake, In Firefly Valley, and On Lone Star Trail, as well as the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.

  

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3/28
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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

 

Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

 

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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Review: The District Manager by Matt Minor

THE DISTRICT MANAGER
by
Matt Minor
Genre: Political Suspense
Publisher: Dead Tree
Date of Publication: June 30, 2016
Number of Pages: 266
Scroll down for Giveaway!

 

“Doing the right thing means you don’t eat”
So begins the sweltering narrative of District Manager, Mason Dixon, a haunted man serving Texas House District 100. After a constituent reaches out to his office with disturbing information about twisted activities going on in district, Mason finds himself drawn into a game of cat and mouse with a malevolent entity.
While these events unfold, Mason begins dating a county judge’s assistant. Brenna is a single mother who is ready to start the next chapter of her life. Can she and the stoical Mason connect? Or will she become collateral damage to his unorthodox, occupational hazards?
Mason soon finds that the danger has reached the highest ranks of the district, and that the century-old structure where he offices is not haunted, but instead possessed by an all too real menace.
Can a man who is profoundly broken restore order when the very core of order itself has been corrupted? 
“Matt Minor knows Texas politics from the inside, and he weaves a devious tale of deceit and death and even a little romance. Buckle your seat belt and hang on for the ride.”  — Bill Crider

 

Review
I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t retained much from my Texas history or government classes. I went into this novel unsure of what exactly Mason Dixon did for a living, but I remembered the significance of his namesake at least. And this might be a misstep, but I like to have a clear picture of each character so that while I read, I have a movie playing in my head. For some reason, I pictured a Matthew McConaughey type sweating buckets (perspiration is big in this book because the Texas heat is practically a character on its own). But a chapter or two in, Mason turned into more of a Chris Pratt because I found out he’s a lot younger than I thought (35 if I remember correctly), and still acts like a college guy in some respects.
So once I solidified Mason’s looks, I tried to understand what exactly his job was. His boss is this political guy with a very political name (Halliburton Crane), and yet he seems to involve himself in some messy business. I definitely didn’t peg him for someone to actually go out to the middle of the boon to check out a complaint on possible dogfighting with pit bulls. I got the feeling that most people who share his job description were more pencil pushing, phone fundraiser-types, but Mason was anything but that. He can dig into files, but the man knows how to shoot a .38 accurately.
The mystery behind the absent wife sort of unfolds slowly, I suppose to explain his trepidation of starting a relationship with the very sexy Brenna. Maybe it also has to do with Minor’s decision to slowly reveal Mason’s opinion of bad cops. I don’t know how long it took Minor to write this novel, but I found that Mason’s feelings about law enforcement are very timely with what is going on in our country right now. In fact, all of the ugly things in this novel are very relevant today: political corruption (here and Mexico), human trafficking, marijuana (should it be legalized?), and animal abuse.
I would be curious to see what else Mason Dixon gets himself into in the future. I hope that Minor plans on making a series about the guy.
Matt Minor presently serves as a Chief of Staff in the Texas House of Representatives. He has worked as a political campaign manager and is a well-regarded public speaker. Matt has authored official state publications, oversees syndicated editorials, and is a speechwriter and district radio legislative commentator. Prior to his life in state politics Matt was a professional musician and entertainer. Matt’s hobbies are centered on the arts, including the craft of poetry, an interest that has brought academic recognition and numerous awards.
His first novel, The Representative was an Amazon Political Fiction Bestseller the summer of 2015. It was accepted and archived into the Texas State Legislative Library. In April of 2016 The Representative won an IPPY Gold medal for Southern-Region Fiction.
Matt Minor resides with his wife Stacy on their ranch property in Wharton County, Texas. He lives in Austin during legislative session.
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7/13     Country Girl BookaholicReview
7/14     The Page UnboundGuest Post #1
7/15     StoreyBook Reviews Author Interview
7/16     Missus GonzoReview
7/18     Reading By Moonlight  Excerpt
7/19     It’s a Jenn WorldReview
7/20     Forgotten Winds Guest Post #2
7/21     The Crazy Booksellers Promo
7/22     My Book Fix BlogReview

 

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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:
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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

 

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Excerpt: The Do-Right by Lisa Sandlin

 THE DO-RIGHT

 

 

by 
Lisa Sandlin 

 

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press
Date of Publication: October 27, 2015
# of pages: 306
Scroll down for Giveaway!

1959. Delpha Wade killed a man who was raping her. Wanted to kill the other one too, but he got away. Now, after fourteen years in prison, she’s out. It’s 1973, and nobody’s rushing to hire a parolee. Persistence and smarts land her a secretarial job with Tom Phelan, an ex-roughneck turned neophyte private eye. Together these two pry into the dark corners of Beaumont, a blue-collar, Cajun-influenced town dominated by Big Oil. A mysterious client plots mayhem against a small petrochemical company-why? Searching for a teenage boy, Phelan uncovers the weird lair of a serial killer. And Delpha — on a weekend outing — looks into the eyes of her rapist, the one who got away. The novel’s conclusion is classic noir, full of surprise, excitement, and karmic justice. Sandlin’s elegant prose, twisting through the dark thickets of human passion, allows Delpha to open her heart again to friendship, compassion, and sexuality.
PRAISE FOR THE DO-RIGHT:

“Lisa Sandlin’s The Do-Right is something akin to a rusted nail through the foot: it’s dirty, it hurts, and it’ll have you jumping up and down—or possibly just on the floor. Delpha Wade and Tom Phelan are as lovable a duo as any in noir fiction.” — Joseph Borden, Killer Nashville

 

“When a critic praises a writer’s original voice, what does that really mean? In the case
of Texas native Lisa Sandlin, it means dog-earing page after page in her novel The
Do-Right, to reread particularly terrific passages or, even better, share them aloud . . .
Check out The Do-Right, and see if you don’t find yourself reading passages aloud
just for the sheer pleasure of it.” – Shawna Seed, The Dallas Morning News
“Smashingly original.” — Jack Batten, Toronto Star
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ed92b-excerpt

EXCERPT #2: THE DO-RIGHT:

 

She had thought this out many times.

She opened the door to #221, put down the suitcase and plate as before. Swiveled and locked the door, set the key in clear view on a chest of drawers. Then she picked up the plate and looked around. Moss-green walls. Window facing an alley. Single bed with a chenille spread, dusky rose. Bedside table, lamp. Chest of drawers. Chair. Closet. That picture of two kids huddling on a bridge, wide-winged angel flared up behind, enough to scare the tar out of them. She’d count on a Gideon in the night table.

Delpha unpacked her four pairs of white cotton panties, her extra brassiere, also white cotton, a sanitary belt and
box of Kotex into the chest of drawers. Hung two skirts and blouses and a dress in the closet. Unzipped her navy blue skirt and hung it up too, shed her shirt, bra and panties, and kept on the white nylon slip. The old hotel had been refurbished with central air but a measly amount circulated. She raised the window for fresh air. Switched on the ceiling fan, but not the lamp. She took her sandwich to the side of the bed, where, sitting down, she ate it slowly, holding her head over the plate so as not to drop crumbs onto the swept wood floor. Fragrant, that mayhaw. She sopped up the crumbs with a damp finger.

Then she pulled down the covers and lay down, stretched out her legs, her toes spread against cotton washed two hundred times, drew the sheet up to her shoulders. Laying her head on the flattened pillow, she felt, then savored how the door was locked and she was alone.

The door was locked. She was alone.

Nobody was in this ten by twelve space but her. No other breathing, gabbing, farting, pouting person. Everybody, everything else shut out. Locked out, on the other side somewhere. No one could walk in. She was not counted.

She did not have to speak. She did not have to share or to hoard, yet. She had to hear no one, except an occasional door shutting, a word or two from down the hall whose meaning she was not obliged to heed. She lay inside this idea for an indecipherable while, breaking the spell periodically to check the key up there on top of the chest of drawers. Still there.

Light had faded from the window, and the dark had come in to hang beneath the ceiling.

She breathed up the quiet, the silence—substance, balm, flower, fruit and medicine. She was taking it inside of her, where it expanded, filling scores and pits. The silence of the people who were not here. Silence of the bureau. The single bed. Silence of the empty places where the furniture was not. Silence rose up from the corners of this moss-green room like clear walls. Silence of the curtains riffled by a breeze. Silence of the lock.

 

 

Lisa Sandlin’s story “Phelan’s First Case” was anthologized in Lone Star Noir (Akashic) and was later re-anthologized in Akashic’s Best of the Noir compendium, USA Noir. The Do-Right, which uses the characters from that story, is her first full-length mystery. Lisa was born in Beaumont, Texas, currently lives and teaches in Omaha, Nebraska, and summers in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

 


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6/6       All for the Love of the Word      — Review
6/7       Country Girl Bookaholic — Author Interview #1
6/8       Forgotten Winds           — Excerpt #1
6/9       My Book Fix Blog          — Review
6/11     Missus Gonzo   — Excerpt #2
6/12     Texas Book Lover          — Author Interview #2
6/13     Margie’s Must Reads    — Review
6/14     The Crazy Booksellers   — Promo
6/15     Book Chase      — Review

 

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Promo and Giveaway: Death Under a Full Moon by Dianne Smithwick-Braden

DEATH UNDER A FULL MOON

 

(Wilbarger County Series #2)


by 


Dianne Smithwick-Braden
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Date of Publication: February 4, 2016
# of pages: 268
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This second installment of the Wilbarger County Series joins Sheriff Wade Adams and Lizzie Fletcher as they investigate murder. Wade and Lizzie attend a dinner party near the small community of Rayland, Texas. One week later, one the guests is murdered.  With his only female deputy out on maternity leave, Sheriff Adams makes a quick decision to deputize Lizzie. That decision proves to be good for the department but damaging to their relationship. The Sheriff and his deputies follow every possible lead to no avail.  Lizzie happens to overhear a conversation that gives them the break they need. With little time to spare, Sheriff Adams and his team rush to prevent yet another death.
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Dianne Smithwick-Braden is a native Texas raised in rural Wilbarger County on the family farm. She is a graduate of Vernon High School and West Texas A & M University. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas with her husband, Richard. She has been a high school science teacher in Amarillo since August of 1990.  Dianne is an avid reader of fiction but murder mysteries are by far her favorite genre. Death under a Full Moon is her second novel and the second installment of the Wilbarger County Series.

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Check out the other great blogs on the tour!  

5/23       Byers Editing Reviews & BlogAuthor Interview #1

5/24       My Book Fix Blog – Review
5/25       Missus Gonzo  – Promo
5/26       Margie’s Must Reads Excerpt
5/27       Country Girl Bookaholic  – Review
5/28       Books and BroomsticksAuthor Interview #2
5/29       StoreyBook Reviews  – Guest Post
5/30       Hall Ways Blog– – Review            
5/31       Texas Book LoverAuthor Interview #3 
6/1         Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their BooksReview
 
 
 
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Dollar Signs by Manning Wolfe

Dollar Signs NEW BANNER

DOLLAR SIGNS
  Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King
Texas Lady Lawyer Novel #1 
by Manning Wolfe
ClaFirst Place, The Writer’s League of Texas Annual Manuscript Contest, 2014
Genre: Adult / Legal Thriller / Mystery /Suspense
Date of Publication: February 18, 2016
# of pages: 310
 
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MERIT BRIDGES, an attorney and widowed mother in Austin, Texas, works hard, drinks too much wine, and sleeps with younger men. When Merit goes after a shady corporation threatening her client, she encounters hired gun Boots King. His charge is simple, “Stop her!” Merit and her team – including Betty, a mothering office manager with a bad-ass attitude – struggle to stay alive, while they navigate a labyrinth of legal issues, and prove once again that you don’t mess with a Texas lady lawyer.
 
Praise for the books:
A legal thriller not to be missed…Manning Wolfe just put
herself on my list of must-read authors. — Mark Pryor, Hugo
Marston Novels
 
Move over, John Grisham. There’s a lady lawyer in town.
Elizabeth Garcia, Deputy Ricos Tales
 
This novel is smart, funny, moving, and entertaining as hell.
Jesse Sublett, 1960’s Austin Gangsters
 
A great read, and Texas crime fiction has a new star.
Bill Crider, Dan Rhodes Mysteries
 
Pages smoke like burnt fried chicken grease on a Saturday
night…This one, my friends, is a non-putter-downer!
George Wier, Bill Travis Mysteries.
 
A high-speed storyline full of twists and turns upon a stark
background of reality as lawyers might really experience
it. Manning Wolfe is one of the up and coming legal thriller
writers of this generation. Read her and enjoy her, but don’t
expect much sleep! — John Ellsworth, author, Thaddeus
Murfee Legal Thrillers
 
                                                                                               MANNING WOLFE an author and attorney residing in Austin, Texas, writes cinematic-style, smart, fast-paced thrillers with a salting of Texas bullshit. The first in her series, featuring Austin Lawyer Merit Bridges, is Dollar Signs: Texas Lady Lawyer vs Boots King. A graduate of Rice University and the University of Texas School of Law, Manning’s experience has given her a voyeur’s peek into some shady characters’ lives and a front row seat to watch the good people who stand against them.
 
Review
I have a really bad habit of comparing books to other books I’ve read or movies I’ve watched. So when I started this one, I thought, “Attractive lawyer helping the underdog. Erin Brockovich!” Of course, Erin wasn’t a lawyer and the case she was working on wasn’t the same. And nobody would ever mistake Merit for a floozy. (She has her share of boy toys but she’s all lady.) I don’t want to ruin anything, but let’s just say that some things go awry and a new plan goes into motion. Other cases are referenced, and the PG&E case is one of them. So my Brockovich comparison wasn’t way off.
Wolfe’s actual experience as an attorney shines through with all of the details (riveting stuff) and she weaves seamlessly between character point of views and scene changes. You can tell when a writer has a little bit of a screenwriter in them as well. Wolfe is one of these. The dialogue is excellent, the characters are fleshed out and interesting, and the plot is realistic and deliciously suspenseful. Details like particular backroads, restaurants, and landmarks confirm that Wolfe knows her way around Texas.
As I tend to do with the really good books I read, I’m going to nitpick now. Merit is a crazy sharp individual, but I find it hard to believe that she didn’t connect Boots King to the truck with “KNG69” or something equally douchey on the license plate. The only thing that would have made the truck more obvious was if it had a huge boot on top or was wrapped in a boot decal. Maybe Wolfe intended for me to smack my forehead and yell, “WAKE UP, MERIT!” I yelled in my head, course.
As a CHL holder and spouse to a gun enthusiast, I cringed every time the magazine was referred to as a clip. I think the CHL instructor character even called it that (not likely to happen in real life). Gun guys HATE it when people call magazines clips. However, I loved the bit about going 9mm (or larger) or going home because I have that conversation with my gun buddies too.
And just for fun I will add that I was blindsided by one character digging on Merit, almost as much as she was. For a good portion of the book, this guy is normal with her, you don’t get the vibe that he’s into her at all. But then Betty says something to the effect of, “He’s into you,” and suddenly there’s all this description about the guy mooning over Merit. And it gets laid thicker and thicker until Merit finally sees it and responds. Not going to ruin that for you either. But I can’t help but give a rundown on my thoughts when there’s romance in a book. There are so many great things about this book. Read it!
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
One lucky winner will receive a signed copy of  Dollar Signs, a $50 Visa Gift Card, a “Don’t Mess With Texas Women” plaque, and some fun dollar sign beads!
Giveaway runs from 12:01am 2/18/16 through 11:59pm 4/2/16
 
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