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Review & Giveaway: The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis

 

THE FLEECING 
OF FORT GRIFFIN
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Western Humor 
Publisher: Wild Horse Press
Date of Publication: May 19, 2016
Number of Pages: 234

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas


Scroll down for the giveaway!

 When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.  
  With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher. 
   To stay rich, the baron must stay alive!  And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal.  Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas. 
   Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.  

PRAISE FOR THE FLEECING OF FORT GRIFFIN:

“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,”
                             Albany Review
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.”
                             Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads
“If you’re looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” 
                             Bryan Eagle

As a fan of Bluster’s Last Stand, I can’t tell you just how much I looked forward to reading this book. Lewis has the rare talent of being able to write about some of the most gruesome times in our country’s history and make us laugh until we’re out of breath. His characters, partially or completely fictionalized, are colorful and so completely drawn in that you can practically see them.
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin introduces a British character who seems to even influence the narrative voice in the beginning of the novel. Something about Lewis’s turn of phrase in the opening chapter read like a classic British novel. It was almost too descriptive and the stage was set at sort of a languid pace. But then again, maybe the Texas heat was to blame for the sluggish descriptions.
It’s the description of the characters that I savor and would like to sop up every little detail. Count on Lewis to present every sort of person you would expect in a Western, and then some. With the exception of young Sammy, I had a feeling that everybody in that town, locals and visitors alike, were full of bullshit.
The title hits you over the head with a key bit of information from the start: Fort Griffin is about to be had. But you’re constantly guessing at how the chips will fall, what kind of hand the baron is going to be dealt… you get the idea. And while you worry about the British guy’s well-being, you have to wonder if a red herring will make an appearance. At times, the set up feels like the great-grandaddy of Ocean’s 11, at other times it reminded me of a rugby match. How there’s a dog pile of people jostling for position, constantly in motion (no down, set, hike like American football), and the progress can be so minute that you didn’t realize they’ve moved down the field a bit.
“The baron attracted business like dung drew flies,” (p. 68) was a particularly apt description of the man who reeled in all sorts of people who were just after his money. It was entertaining to watch seasoned scam artists leave whatever town they last duped to follow the money, and even law enforcement and military officers plotting to win some money off of him via gambling.
My only issue with the book is the cover. At first glance, the cover is among the best I have seen in a while. But upon closer inspection and after having finished reading the book, I’m pretty sure the baron’s hat is incorrect. He is said to wear a bowler, which, according to Google is accurate in the West, but it appears he’s wearing a top hat. Also, the money overflowing from his satchel are American greenbacks. I’m pretty sure the satchel only contained British pounds. Any American money he picked up along the way was usually stashed on his person. And lastly, the baron is missing his beard. Nitpicks aside, the art looks fantastic.

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press.  Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
     Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series. 
Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
           Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.
       Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press.  His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
       A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities.  He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

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Choice of Any One Book from the H.H. Lomax Series
2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
MARCH 20-29, 2018

(US ONLY; email addresses collected will be used by author for distribution list)

 

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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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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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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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