Tag Archives: Texas

Review & Giveaway: Up Near Dallas by Gina Hooten Popp

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by
GINA HOOTEN POPP
  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance
Date of Publication: November 12, 2017
Number of Pages: 307

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The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties. 


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Where to begin? I love everything about this book. I usually dislike books that rotate point of views because authors often don’t differentiate between the character voices. Or even something as basic as too similar character names often makes things confusing. This is not the case with Popp’s book. Each character is different and developed, and most importantly, interesting and believable.

 

I don’t know if it is because of the time period, but every person in this book is strong in their own way. Doctor Lyles takes the Socratic Oath very seriously and stands his ground against those who question his loyalty. Lucky McLaren has the most obvious strength, having fought in a war and his power and success in business. Mick and Cowboy seem to still be growing into their strengths, while the women in the story have an understated strength that I find inspiring. Margaret and Saint are foils, but both young ladies know what they want and work hard for it. Mick’s mother was a pleasant surprise to behold and as I’ve said before on another review, the infamous Bonnie intrigues me.

 

I really hate to give away too much about this book, but everything in it just works for me. I love the idea of a kid who has everything and is willing to throw it all away to follow his dreams. And while the Great Depression is hardly an idyllic backdrop for self discovery and reinvention, it’s nice that the rich kid sees what it’s like to live on the other side of the tracks and helps others less fortunate when he can. And it’s great to see pure, innocent love that is not tainted by material possessions or social statuses.

 

I know I’ve mentioned the strong ladies already, but I feel like Nana Michelle deserves a paragraph of her own. The woman is a wonderful, walking contradiction. So much strength while physically frail. She stands on uppity traditions like hot English tea despite the heat of the South, but will let barn animals into her fancy home during a crisis. She was a dutiful doctor’s wife but took it upon herself to learn to do medical procedures as well. Sweet and shrewd. I hope to be as interesting as her one day.

 

I know that Margaret is only 15, with Mick, Cowboy, and Saint all around there somewhere in age too, so I can’t help but be amazed at the things they accomplish. Fifteen-year-olds nowadays are practically infantile. They usually don’t make level-headed decisions in the face of danger. They don’t often know what they want to do with their lives, nor do they have the discipline to work independently toward achieving their goals. And the big one for me, they don’t usually know the difference between infatuation and true love. People in the past were made of tougher stuff, so maybe they see things more clearly than we do, and sooner.

 

Maybe I morbidly romanticize this time in history, but I’m a big fan of the ingenuity and pulling up of one’s bootstraps that Depression survivors do. Up Near Dallas is a great piece of historical fiction and I plan to read the other installments. I also plan to hunt down some music from the time period because my interest has certainly been piqued.

 

 

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission. 


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12/7/17
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Review & Giveaway: The Secret Room by John Alexander

THE SECRET ROOM
(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by
JOHN ALEXANDER
  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book
Date of Publication: October 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.




PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM:
“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

 “The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

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300b2-review
At the risk of sounding ageist and/or sexist, I am impressed when authors can write from a completely different generation’s or opposite gender’s point of view. Alexander pulls it off effortlessly and tells a great mystery with some history woven in. Given the popularity of series such as American Girls and The Boxcar Children, I think he picked a great niche.
I don’t know if all of the books in the Amber-Autumn Series feature black and white photos like this one, but I love how they add more depth to the story and a bit of creepiness to it; much like the photographs in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. While the photos in the Ransom Riggs series are truly odd and creepy, I like how The Secret Room’s photos are just scenic but still somehow send a shiver down your spine.
I wonder if this series is similar to The Boxcar Children in that the first book is sort of the origin story and the following books just assume that you have read the first one. Either way, I found it interesting that this book doesn’t clue you in to what these girls look like, what their ethnicity might be. I don’t know if Alexander did this intentionally, but I could see how doing so would allow little girls to insert themselves into the story. The ambiguity distracts me as an adult, but as a kid I think I would appreciate it.
The writing style is clean and the characters are believable. I noticed that all of the main characters are women. As an adult, I can’t help but wonder if this was intentional and what it might be indicative of.
I recommend this book especially to kids who solve mysteries easily. I double dare them to guess the ending.

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.
John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.
John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.
After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.
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AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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11/27/17
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11/27/17
Excerpt
11/28/17
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11/29/17
Author Interview
11/29/17
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11/30/17
Review
12/1/17
Notable Quotable
12/1/17
Notable Quotable
12/2/17
Review
12/3/17
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Review & Giveaway: A Good Girl by Johnnie Bernhard

BNR A Good Girl JPG

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. 

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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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300b2-review

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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3-Nov
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Video Guest Post & Giveaway: Comfort Plans by Kimberly Fish

COMFORT PLANS
by
KIMBERLY FISH
  Genre: Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Date of Publication: May 23, 2017
Number of Pages: 320
Scroll down for giveaway!
 

Colette Sheridan is being remodeled.


As a San Antonio architect, she’d have vowed her career was to investigate the history and create new functions for the structures everyone else saw as eyesores. The old German farmhouse in Comfort, Texas, might be the screeching end of that dream job. The assignment seemed so ideal at the start; generous clients, a stunning location, and a pocketful of letters that were surely meant to explain the ranch’s story. All that goodness crashed louder than a pile of two-by-fours when her grandfather announced he’d lured Colette’s ex-husband back to San Antonio to take over the family architecture firm. Now, not only does Colette have to endure the challenges posed by Beau Jefferson, the client’s handpicked contractor, a house that resists efforts to be modernized, and letters that may hold the secret to buried treasure, but she also has to decide if she has the courage to fight for her future.

Set against the backdrop of the Texas Hill Country, Colette and Beau have to rely on plans neither of them constructed in order to navigate the changes of a house with a story to tell, and a future they couldn’t even imagine.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.”

–Vickie Phelps,Author of Moved, Left No Address


video guest post
Old Letters Play A Key Role in Comfort Plans
 
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won The Writer’s League of Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. 

She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats and in 2017, released the first novel in a series set during the World War II years in Longview, Texas—The Big Inch

She lives with her family in East Texas.
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Excerpt & Giveaway: Breakfast in Texas by Terry Thompson-Anderson

BREAKFAST IN TEXAS
by
Terry Thompson-Anderson
  Genre: Cookbook / Southwest Cuisine
Publisher: The University of Texas Press
Date of Publication: April 18, 2017
Number of Pages: 312
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Texans love the morning meal, whether it’s bacon and eggs (often eaten in a breakfast taco) or something as distinctively nontraditional as saag paneer omelets, pon haus, or goat curry. A Lone Star breakfast can be a time for eating healthy, or for indulging in decadent food and drink. And with Texas’s rich regional and cultural diversity, an amazing variety of dishes graces the state’s breakfast and brunch tables. The first Texas cookbook dedicated exclusively to the morning meal, Breakfast in Texas gathers nearly one hundred recipes that range from perfectly prepared classics to the breakfast foods of our regional cuisines (Southern, Mexican, German, Czech, Indian, and Asian among them) to stand-out dishes from the state’s established and rising chefs and restaurants.

Terry Thompson-Anderson organizes the book into sections that cover breakfast and brunch libations (with and without alcohol); simple, classic, and fancy egg presentations; pancakes, French toast, and waffles; meat lover’s dishes; seafood and shellfish; vegan dishes and sides; and pastries. The recipes reference locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, and Thompson-Anderson provides enjoyable notes about the chefs who created them or the cultural history they represent. She also offers an expert primer on cooking eggs, featuring an encounter with Julia Child, as well as a selection of theme brunches (the boozy brunch, the make-ahead brunch, New Year’s Day brunch, Mother’s Day brunch with seasonal ingredients, teenage daughter’s post-slumber party breakfast, and more). Sandy Wilson’s color photographs of many of the dishes and the chefs and restaurants who serve them provide a lovely visual counterpoint to the appetizing text.

Praise for Breakfast in Texas:
**A James Beard Cookbook Award Finalist**
“Bring a Texas-sized appetite to the table for Breakfast in Texas! A combination of home-style cooking and favorite dishes from restaurants across the great state, Breakfast in Texas is packed with recipes for simple to spectacular egg dishes, creative cocktails, meat lovers’ feasts, and pancakes and pastries, as well as vegan breakfast and brunch ideas. Beautiful photographs, mouth-watering recipes, and great menu and party ideas make this a must-have for your cookbook shelf.”
-Virginia Willis, chef and James Beard Award–winning cookbook author 

“I thoroughly enjoyed Terry Thompson-Anderson’s latest cookbook, Breakfast in Texas. I’m sure many of these recipes are going to become signature dishes for my family, as well as my loyal restaurant customers. Relish every story; enjoy every bite. This cookbook is Texas at the breakfast table.”
-Monica Pope, chef and author of Eat Where Your Food Lives

“Terry Thompson-Anderson’s epic breakfast book spans the cultures of Texas, as well as its regions. With recipes that run from simple to more elaborate, and range from libations to pastries, there’s something for everyone. Plus, Breakfast in Texas is a good read, with all sorts of fascinating information about Texas and its rich and colorful history.”
-Paula Lambert, owner of the Mozzarella Company and author of The Cheese Lover’s Cookbook and Guide
ed92b-excerpt

Introduction from Breakfast in Texas

By Terry Thompson-Anderson

 

A morning meal, the nutritionists tell us, is essential. It kick-starts our brains so that we can think, function, and work productively until lunchtime. But the morning meal that we know of as breakfast is much more than intellectual stimulation, well-being, or bacon and eggs. The history of breakfast in America parallels the history of the country. The North developed breakfasts featuring sausage and hash brown potatoes, while the South added grits, ham, and its beloved biscuits. The Creole culture of New Orleans introduced the concept of brunch to America with grand, leisurely, multi-course meals served later in the morning with exotic cocktails and special coffee concoctions, while westward expansion introduced Mexican and Czech influences and cooking the breakfast meal over open fires in cast-iron cooking vessels.

 

When settlers from other countries, with varied ethnic and cultural backgrounds, first began to colonize Texas, they found a thriving Mexican culture in place with its tradition of rich, hearty, and spicy morning meals. For example, German immigrants who came to Texas in the mid-1800s brought their skills as sausage makers, and introduced potato pancakes and Apfelpfannkuchen (German puffy pancakes with apples). Czech immigrants introduced their timeless pastries, such as kuchen, kolaches, and klobasnikis (sausage-filled pastries). Today, though the definitive history of brunch in Texas is far from documented, Texas is a melting pot of breakfast styles reflecting the cultural diversity of the state itself.

 

In our travels researching, photographing, and interviewing people in the Lone Star State, Sandy and I ate a lot of breakfasts, and often shared some heavenly brunches, across the many miles we covered. We were struck with the regional and cultural diversity of the dishes served for the morning meal, both in mom-and-pop diners in the small towns and in luxury hotels and eateries in the big cities. We fell equally in love with the breakfast tacos in San Antonio, the saag paneer omelets in Houston, the pon haus in Austin, the delicious shrimp and grits in the unlikely location of Lubbock, the goat curry in Fort Worth, the caramel-drizzled donuts made from biscuit dough in El Paso, the blintzes in Dallas, and the many unique and innovative versions of eggs Benedict everywhere. We began to realize that breakfast is the all-day meal. And it often substitutes for dinner.

 

We shared an enthusiasm for trying many of these dishes at home to serve to our families and friends. Then we thought perhaps others, too, might like to make their morning meals more of an “experience” to be shared with the special people in their lives. In writing and providing the photographs for this book, we hope to inspire a breakfast revolution celebrating the many cultures of Texas—a revolution that will bring our readers together as families or groups of friends for a morning meal, or a leisurely Sunday respite before returning to the workplace on Monday. For those times, we’ve included a selection of tasty libations so that you can start your brunch experience off with a toast to many more shared morning meals.

 

Along the way, we also noticed that breakfast and brunch are getting a lot of attention these days. And it’s certainly not the same old bacon and eggs or bowl of dried cereal swimming in milk and sugar. Savory ingredients like meats (even game meats and fowl), fish and shellfish, and veggies, often topped with rich sauces, are being added to the breakfast table. Even when they’re in a hurry, it seems people are wanting a memorable taste sensation in the morning so they can start the day with a satisfied smile—even if it’s a mobile handheld breakfast in this day of mobile everything lifestyles.

 

Anthony Bourdain, America’s popular chef/food adventurer, is a great fan of the morning meal. We certainly agreed with his sentiments when he said, “What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast?”

 

 fcbc4-abouttheauthor
Terry Thompson-Anderson is the author of nine previous cookbooks, including Texas on the Table: People, Places, and Recipes Celebrating the Flavors of the Lone Star State, which was a finalist for the 2015 James Beard Book Award for American Cooking.


Connect with The University of Texas Press:



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  May 30-June 13, 2017
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Promo & Giveaway: Before the Rain Falls by Camille Di Maio

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS
by
CAMILLE DI MAIO
  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical / Family
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: May 16, 2017
Number of Pages: 334
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After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

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Praise for Before the Rain Falls:
Still wiping away tears! Before the Rain Falls is simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful, and joyous: a story of complex characters with varied pasts and bright futures. Loved it! – Jennifer B. on Goodreads
This novel takes readers on an emotional, fast-paced, ride through one sister’s journey to self, redemption, and the true meaning of “freedom.” – Nicole W. on Goodreads
There is romance, mystery, and secrets that are kept till the very end that will have you not wanting this beautifully written story to end. – Carol B. on Goodreads
Camille recently left an award-winning real estate career in San Antonio to become a full-time writer. Along with her husband of 19 years, she enjoys raising their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She overdoses on goodies at farmer’s markets (justifying them by her support for local bakeries) and belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. The Memory of Us is Camille’s debut novel. Her second, Before the Rain Falls was released on May 16, 2017.

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5/19
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5/20
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5/21
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5/23
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Review: The Big Inch by Kimberly Fish

THE BIG INCH
by
KIMBERLY FISH
  Genre: Historical Fiction, WWII
Date of Publication: January 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 344

 

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Kimberly Fish’s debut novel, The Big Inch, was released in February, 2017 and it reveals the lengths to which Texas oilmen, state, and federal governments would go to get Texas crude oil to the troops fighting their first mechanized war. With Nazi threats (and a steady stream of oil tankers sunk by German submarines) speed was necessary, as was OSS intelligence. The Office of Strategic Services was often staffed with female spies and Longview’s World War II efforts were critical for success. 
Lane Mercer, sent to Longview, Texas in July 1942, is part of a select group of women working undercover for the fledgling federal agency, the Office of Strategic Services. Assigned to protect the man carrying out President Roosevelt’s initiative to build the nation’s first overland pipeline to hurry East Texas crude to the troops, she discovers there’s more to Longview than the dossiers implied. There’s intrigue, mayhem, and danger. Shamed from a botched OSS mission in France, Lane struggles to fulfill her mission and keep from drowning in guilt. Getting involved in local life is out of the question. Between family, do-gooders, and Nazi threats, she’s knitted into a series of events that unravel all of her carefully constructed, plans, realizing that sometimes the life one has to save, is one’s own.

 

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PRAISE FOR THE BIG INCH:
“With an eye for detail, Kimberly Fish weaves a compelling story of a war widow who finds herself in Longview, Texas in 1942. Reading Kimberly’s novel was a bit like going back to a cloak and dagger time, and I enjoyed the local references. Longview was an amazing place to be during WWII.”   — Van Craddock, Longview News Journal, Columnist
“Kimberly Fish’s unique writing style snatched me out of my easy chair and plunked me down into the middle of her character’s life where I was loathe to leave when my real life called me back. Her descriptive visual writing drew me in on the first page. Can’t wait to read more stories by Mrs. Fish.” — Vickie Phelps  Author of Moved, Left No Address

 

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From the get-go, Fish reels you in with vivid descriptions. I can feel Lane’s trepidation on this journey, although I haven’t gotten to know her enough yet. I am at the train station, too, overwhelmed by the chaos of activity and people. And as intrigued as I am by Lane’s snippets of life in Paris, I am even more in awe of her situational awareness. I instantly  become a fan when she outwits a pickpocket and, cool as a cucumber, is swept away by train to her new life.
I apologize if my gushing makes the novel sound melodramatic. Believe me, it is far from that. The people are very real and the situation even more so. The subject of oil is a touchy one, especially when there’s a war going on. No hunch is too small to investigate. And no person is insignificant it seems.
As an attractive, single (widowed) woman, Lane has to navigate small town life carefully. And that’s easier said than done when her boss is a handsome lady’s man. When she isn’t busy batting away blind date offers, Lane has to fend off a few tempting suitors as well. While some women would fall prey to men like that, Lane is truly a completely different breed of woman. Her dedication to her job and sense of honor allows her to brush off society’s misconceptions and the annoyances that result from them.
Lane has to tail her boss constantly to ensure his safety, earning her the nickname “Elmer”. As in the glue. Get it? Haha! Even the people working closely with her couldn’t help making assumptions. I was amazed that her honor wasn’t completely drowned in the gossip pool. Several times, her good deeds got her into a bit of trouble. Submerging her further into that pool. But Lane is an exceptional swimmer.
I might have made her out to be perfect, but Lane does manage to underestimate a handful of characters. Which leads to surprisingly good and unfortunately bad ends. I can’t get into all that without ruining the story. But let me just praise Fish a bit more on her ability to fashion such a compelling and believable protagonist. I really enjoyed learning a little bit about Lane each time she slipped up and let another character get to see who she really is.
And Ms. Fish, if you’re reading this, I would really like a novel about Sergeant Tesco.
Kimberly Fish started writing professionally with the birth of her second child and the purchase of a home computer. Having found this dubious outlet, she then entered and won a Texas manuscript contest which fed her on-going fascination with story crafting. She has since published in magazines, newspapers, and online formats, She lives with her family in East Texas.
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3/8
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