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Review & Giveaway: A Good Girl by Johnnie Bernhard

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A GOOD GIRL

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

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

CHECK OUT THE BOOK TRAILER!



PRAISE FOR A GOOD GIRL:

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

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

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Sales benefit Port Lavaca, Texas! Much of the setting of A Good Girl, a six generation Texas saga, is set in Port Lavaca, Calhoun County. During the Lone Star Book Blog Tour, all author’s royalties will be donated to the Calhoun County Museum of Port Lavaca in its recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey. Texas Proud! Port Lavaca Strong!
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Only recently have I begun to enjoy stories and the history of people across the pond, but I have always been drawn to pioneer and immigrant stories in American history. Bernhard’s story taught me a great deal more about these experiences than what was covered in my history classes. I had no idea just how oppressive the British were on the Irish and the false promises made to entice whole families to board coffin ships. Much like what Henry’s children came to realize, this book made me reflect on how different the hardships of the poor back then are from the poor now.

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

Johnnie will be on the road with A Good Girl at the following locations: 
October 26         Southern Bound Book Store, Biloxi, MS, 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m., http://southernboundblog.net/index.html
October 27-28     Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge, LA, state capitol, http://www.louisianabookfestival.org/
November 4      Peter Anderson Festival, Ocean Springs, MS, Poppy’s on Porter, Washington Avenue, http://www.peterandersonfestival.com/
November 13     Live on KSHU Radio 1430 AM, Houston, Texas, 8 a.m. 
November 16     Calhoun County Historical Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas, 5 p.m. http://calhouncountymuseum.org/
November 18    River Oaks Book Store, Houston, Texas, 3 – 5 p.m., www.riveroaksbookstore.com
December 6 – 8    Words & Music Literary Feast, New Orleans, LA, www.wordsandmusic.org
December 10        Barnes & Noble, New Orleans, noon – 2 p.m.
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One lucky winner gets a signed copy!
October 26-November 4, 2017
(U.S. Only)
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26-Oct
Excerpt 1
27-Oct
Review
28-Oct
Author Interview
29-Oct
Guest Post
30-Oct
Review
31-Oct
Notable Quotable
1-Nov
Review
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3-Nov
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Guest Post & Giveaway: The Unremembered Girl by Eliza Maxwell


THE UNREMEMBERED GIRL

by
ELIZA MAXWELL
  Genre: Psychological Suspense / Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 332
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In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken young woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.


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Praise for The Grave Tender, Maxwell’s previous book:

“An emotional powerhouse of a story that will leave readers reeling from the beginning to the end.” —Christena Stephens, Forgotten Winds

“Beautiful and intoxicating.” —Chelsea Humphrey, The Suspense is Thrilling Me

“Haunting. Lyrical. Beautiful. Dark. At times, sickening.” —Julia Byers, Books in the Garden

“This is dark psychological suspense that skillfully inspires a slow-dawning dread. . .It will shred you.” — Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
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Check out the book trailer!

GuestPost

Building a Book

GUEST POST

By Author Eliza Maxwell

 

A few years ago, my parents decided to retire and buy their dream home.  In keeping with their life long tendency to go steadfastly in the opposite direction of sane people, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the sight.  I’m not exaggerating when I tell you, it was a shack.  Literally.  A shack on stilts, located dead center of nowhere, in a swamp where the alligators outnumbered the far-flung neighbors. By a lot.

“It has bars on the windows!”  I said.  “Why does it have bars on the windows?”

Mom shrugged.  “It has a hole in the floor, too.”

Imagine my face.

“A hole?  Was someone trying to get in… Or trying to get out?”

Aaaaand… she shrugged at me again.  

A master of the shrug, my mom.

“Oh, calm down,” she said.  “We’re not going to live here.  It’s just a staging area while we build a house.”

A small sigh of relief, but short-lived.  Said future home at that time consisted of nothing more than conceptual drawings sketched out in my dad’s familiar scrawl.  As I lie there that night, listening to the scratch of things best not named across the roof and the hoots and calls of the wildlife that had claimed this murky green place long before my parents, I fell asleep to the dance and sway of the old battered building stretching on its precarious perch.

I’ll admit, I’ve had better night’s sleep.  But in between the fits and starts of waking to “The Shack” inexplicably shifting from one side to another (No, I’m not joking. The place moved.) the seeds of Henry and Eve’s story were planted.

A love story, maybe.  But the darker side of love.  A love that’s nothing less than the worst thing that could ever happen.  A love you might not survive.  A love that could bury you.

Over the next few months, my dad built a house, and I built a book.

The shack is still there, waiting.

“What are you guys going to do with that thing?” I asked.

My mom just shrugged.

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers. You can find her at theelizamaxwell@gmail.com
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
Grand Prize ($90 value): Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, 1.75 mL bottle of Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Jusalpha white porcelain decorative cake stand, recipe for “Caroline’s Coconut Cake” (featured in the book), $20 Amazon Gift Card.
2nd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, $10 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl
October 5-October 14, 2017
(U.S. Only; proof of age 21 or older required to receive vodka)
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10/7
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10/8
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Review
10/10
Excerpt
10/10
Author Interview
10/11
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10/12
Review
10/13
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10/14
Review
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Mysteries of Love and Grief by Sandra Scofield

Reflections on a Plainswoman’s Life
by 
Sandra Scofield
Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983.
Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.
Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.
 
BUY LINKS: AMAZON ~ Texas Tech Press ~ B&N
 
 
Praise for MYSTERIES OF LOVE AND GRIEF
 
Throughout her depiction of her own family, Scofield kept me surprised—a moment of generosity when I didn’t expect it or of anger when I didn’t expect that. Mysteries remain as they must, but I trusted the insights as well as the mysteries. I thought it was a very beautiful book, smart and sharp.
Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves and The Jane Austen Book Club
 
Largely ungoverned by chronology, Scofield’s journey of discovery unfolds organically, true to the way memory works. Seeking to know her grandmother, she honors the lives and artistic bent of many women marginalized by gender and poverty in the early to mid-twentieth century. This is a unique and necessary work.
Lorraine M. López, author of Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories and The Darling
Review
I have no idea why I was expecting a Little House on the Prairie type experience (maybe because she references the series a few times in the book), but this was not it. That’s not a bad thing when you consider that Little House glosses over things like extreme poverty, death, and doing illegal activities (shame on you, Pa). The pain and confusion Scofield feels for her mother and grandmother are evident throughout the memoir. While I was confused now and then (I could never get the hang of her calling everyone by first name rather than “Mother” and “Aunt”), I could relate to the mixed feelings about family. I know all too well the wanting to move away and move on, but finding yourself running back to where you came from. My takeaway from this writing was that we don’t always get to know the truth, definitely not all of it, but we should embrace the love while it’s with us. Also, Texas breeds some strong ass, independent women. I think I would love having a coffee talk with Scofield.
 
 

A native Texan, Sandra Scofield divides her time between Missoula, Montana, and Portland, Oregon. 
 
She has written seven novels, a memoir, and a craft book for writers. An excerpt from Mysteries of Love and Grief won first place in Narrative magazine’s 2014 Spring Story Contest. She is an avid landscape painter.
 
 
 
 
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