Killers of the Flower Moon: My Review

Killers of the Flower Moon Book CoverFrom 1921 to 1926 a series of murders were perpetrated against the Osage Indian Nation in Pawhuska, Oklahoma. The murders were calculated to cheat the Osage out of their rights to land that had been forced upon them by the United States government. Once large deposits of oil were discovered the Osage became some of the wealthiest people in America, but unscrupulous individuals, including prominent citizens, local law enforcement officers and members of the judiciary all conspired to take their wealth from them.
In his meticulously researched book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI,” author David Grann reveals the corruption, prejudices, and Old West attitudes that resulted in this “Reign of Terror.”
In their day the murders were headline news, but Grann not only sifts through old newspapers, but court records, eyewitness accounts, descendent interviews, and FBI files to get at the truth. In doing so he recounts the early formative days of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, its director J. Edgar Hoover, and the men hand-picked to impartially investigate the murders and establish the FBI as the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.
What may shock readers, however, is the magnitude of the conspiracy and the great many murders that were never investigated.
The book is a window into a very dark period in American history; an account that definitely deserves telling, will have the reader invested in the story that unfolds, and provides yet another chapter in the saga and legacy of poor treatment of Native Americans


COMMENT:  The content of this blog includes works that I have authored, books that I’ve read of my own volition, and promotions on behalf of Lone Star Literary Life. I wrote of my intent to help promote the Texas literary scene working with LSLL on March 23rd, and I have since used this site for several of their Book Blog Tours. Whenever I write in that capacity it should be evident by the use of their logo.



East Jesus: My Review


East Jesus Book CoverI wasn’t sure where to begin my review of “East Jesus.” Having just read and reviewed the prequel, “Blood And Remembrance,”there are elements within the book that I would not have recognized had I read them in the sequence in which they were written and published. Nonetheless, each book stands on its own and there is no requirement to have read them in any particular order, or for that matter any less enjoyment for having read just one or the other.
Obviously, the setting and most of the characters carry over, as does the the violence and threat of violence that is pervasive in both novels. However, the resignation and desperation that dominate the narrative in “Blood And Remembrance” are tempered in “East Jesus” by the innocence and optimism of children unwilling to just accept their fate and, unlike the adults who simply go about their lives trapped by their circumstances and poor decisions, actually hold out hope of a brighter future.
From the very first chapter the reader knows that a day of reckoning is coming, that there will be a climactic confrontation to end years of mental and physical abuse. Still, the ending you expect is not what Chris Manno delivers. The looming disaster that has been building throughout the entire book plays out, but not in any way that you could have envisioned.
The WOW factor aside, Chris Manno has written a coming of age story the likes of which I have not encountered since reading “The Last Picture Show” by Larry McMurtry. The year is 1969 and seventeen year old Travis Carlisle must first deal with the situation at home – Pop who promises yet more abuse; “unfinished business” that will be settled once and for all when he rolls his big rig back into town, Momma whose daily routine involves endless cigarettes and alcohol to cope with a life of repeated beatings and meaningless sex, his little sister Bean who is traumatized by what she’s seen and at age five hasn’t spoken a single word, and his Uncle Otis recently released from Huntsville State Penitentiary, who frightens almost everyone in the West Texas town of Conroy but is pledged to protect both Travis and Bean.
If that isn’t enough drama for anyone at this age, Travis is also experiencing the angst and exhilaration of being a teenager in a small rural town. There may not be much to Conroy, Texas… nobody new ever settles there and few even pass through because it’s on the road to nowhere, but he and his best friend Buster still chase after the local girls hoping to get past 2nd base, work hard to make the varsity football team to play under those Friday night lights, sneak a cold brew whenever and wherever they can, hang out at the Dixie Dog and Alamo Cafe, participate in pick-up baseball games with their friends, look forward to the annual Fair in Lubbock, marvel at astronauts landing on the moon, and try to comprehend through letters written by Buster’s older brother Bo what it is like to travel halfway around the world to fight on foreign soil in a place called Vietnam.
Once again I found myself totally immersed in a Chris Manno novel. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in Texas, but I was able to project my own experiences onto the tapestry of life, death, pain, sorrow and redemption that is “East Jesus.” If you appreciate flesh and blood characters, their interwoven story lines, and an ending that will blow you away, this book is a must read!

Thrilling Supernatural Read!

Genre: Paranormal / Thriller / Suspense 
Publisher: Clear Creek Publishing
Date of Publication: May 13, 2017

Number of Pages: 316

Reporter Gera Stapleton has a difficult choice to make: write the story of a lifetime or save the legacy of a town—and a man—she has come to love. Assigned to a piece in Jerome, Arizona about a once-friendly ghost gone on a crime spree, Gera stumbles upon an amazing tale of greed, deception, and family honor—and murder. When the killer targets her as the next victim, an unlikely savior comes to her rescue. Smart dialogue, plenty of action, and a touch of the supernatural make this a must-read novel.

Praise for the book:

“Becki Willis blends bits of history with bits of fancy and weaves a tantalizing tale you won’t soon forget.”

 “A delicious read. It has ghostly whispers, a brave leading character, bad guys, fun, danger and love. ”

“Oh, how I love this writer! She has freshened the genre of ghost stories by her unusual point of view.”

“Tangible Spirits” is an excellent story for those who love history and ghost towns as well as those who just love a good romance novel.

“A spine-tingling novel set in the real-life ghost town of Jerome, Arizona.”

Quotes from the book:

“I’ve seen things. Heard things, felt things. Sensed things. Things that cannot be readily explained. Call them what you may, but we have tangible spirits among us.”

“There are things in life that are beyond explanation. The smell of the mountain air after a spring rain. The beauty of a sunset beyond those hills yonder. The translucent prisms of a rainbow across the clear Arizona sky.” She turned her vivid gaze toward Gera. “And the eternal and often tangible spirit of life.”



2018 Best Paranormal Fiction
by The Association of Texas Authors 
2018 RONE Award Nominee for Paranormal Long
Crowned Heart Recipient from InD’Tale Magazine


Each year InD’tale Magazine honors the very best books in the Indie and Small publishing industry by awarding the prestigious RONE award (Reward of Novel Excellence). To achieve this award, a book must go through the most comprehensive process in the industry today, with three distinct areas of focus— highly rated and reviewed, loved by fans, and critiqued by qualified judges. No other award system today compares, making the RONE award the very highest of honors bestowed on a novel in the publishing industry.

 The first round of voting (happening May 7-13, 2018 for TANGIBLE SPIRITS) allows the reading public to choose their favorites. Books with the most votes proceed as finalists. The books chosen as finalists will then be read by a group of industry professionals and will be judged based on a specific list of requirements. Those scores will then be tallied by a professional company unrelated to InD’tale or its employees to determine the winner of the coveted RONE award.
Tangible Spirits RONE Awards
Please register now at and cast your vote for TANGIBLE SPIRITS by Becki Willis. *Please Note* To maintain honesty and fairness in the voting process, only registered InD’Tale website subscribers can vote. Registering is completely FREE and does not require any commitments whatsoever.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: To the delight of readers around the world, Becki Willis writes memorable characters in believable situations. Best known for Forgotten Boxes and The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series, Becki has won numerous awards, but says her biggest achievement is her family and her loyal reader base.


JUNE 27-JULY 6, 2018
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Blood And Remembrance: My Review

e7308-cover2bbnr2bnarrow2bborder2b-2bcopyHenry David Thoreau wrote “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” The loss of hope, the acceptance of life’s disappointments, the rash choices made to fill the resulting void in our lives, and the consequences of those decisions and actions are at the heart of “Blood and Remembrance.” The difference is that the descriptions of desperation in Chris Manno’s prequel to his award winning novel, “East Jesus,” are not quiet. They are loud, violent, vulgar and… absolutely riveting!
His characters are flesh and blood, their interwoven stories presented in such a way that you’re not only along for the ride. You live and breathe their experiences.
These are experiences most of us never encounter; life inside prison, booze and drug soaked evenings trying to hook up at the local bar, VFW, honky-tonk, or pancake house, broken relationships, rundown trailer parks, and dilapidated vehicles. This is the side of Texas we try not to see.
There’s Ray, incarcerated at Huntsville State Penitentiary. He’s trapped not just by iron bars, cement walls and razor wire, but a system that strips away any sense of human dignity and reduces inmates to animalism just to survive. He will do anything to make it through another day, including murder. He stays hopped up on drugs to negate the monotony and drudgery of life in the Pen. His only escape is the occasional conjugal visit. He knows, however, that he will never get out and that even if he were to once again experience freedom, he would only revert to the same behavior that put him behind bars in the first place.
There’s Verlene, Ray’s girl. She realizes that she has no future with a convict yet she continues the conjugal visits knowing that she will experience only rough sex, not love or intimacy. She’ll be used, but she’s accustomed to that. She exudes the kind of sexuality that drives men mad, and while she is “cock sure” of her ability to manipulate the opposite sex, she is also insecure and vulnerable. Tequila hides her insecurity and vulnerability, at least in public. In the privacy of a public bathroom or her trailer home she cries her eyes out until she once again washes her face, touches up her makeup, and repeats the same destructive behavior.
There’s Randy Mac, the Cowboy. He works as a ranch hand five days a week from sunup to sundown, letting off steam on the weekends. He loves the land and he loves the lifestyle. He dreams of traveling west to New Mexico and Colorado, of buying his own spread one day, and settling down. The only obstacle… Verlene. He knows he’s on the road to hell, but simply can’t get enough of her. Though he tries to force himself to put her out of his mind, he’s haunted by her perfume, by the memory of their trysts, and the continued temptations she throws in his direction. He’s damned and powerless to do anything about it.
There’s little resolution to any of these story lines at the end of “Blood and Remembrance.” After all, this is a prequel. But I’m absolutely hooked. My next read… “East Jesus!”
There is also little to suggest a happy ending. This is a Greek tragedy, albeit the setting is Texas. Nonetheless, I or anyone who reads the first of these two novels by Chris Manno will appreciate his ability to immerse us in a world populated by characters that we genuinely care about, in settings that make us uneasy, in a narrative that makes us want to influence or somehow alter an outcome that we know can only end in disaster, and has us rushing to the physical or online bookstore to get a copy of his companion book.

Blood And Remembrance: Promo & Giveaway

Lone Star Literary Life’s Book Blog Tour for Blood And Remembrance is almost at an end. Look for the final review tomorrow, and scroll down all the way to view the complete schedule and links to every blogger post. For a chance to win a signed copy of the book be sure to enter the Author Giveaway!
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: Dark Horse Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2018
Number of Pages: 321 pages

Scroll down for giveaway!
Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to the award-winning Texas novel, East JesusThis new, stand-alone story rampages from the west Texas plains to Huntsville’s Death Row and back. Cowboys, ranchers, driven oilmen, desperate convicts and headstrong women grapple with truths of the heart, of life, and the coming of age in a dramatic struggle you’ll live yourself and never forget.
Paperback        Kindle

Chris Manno of Fort Worth, Texas, earned a doctorate in English from Texas Christian University and teaches writing at Texas Wesleyan University. 

East Jesus, his first novel, was named “finalist” (second place) for Best Fiction of 2017 by the North Texas Book Festival. The novel takes a close-up, visceral look at West Texas life in 1969 and the good folks who lived it, grappling with notions of family, patriotism and violence, both domestic and in a far-off, unpopular war. 

Blood and Remembrance is the prequel to East Jesus, tracing the roots of the main characters in both books, examining the harsh but classically All-American story of life in the Texas panhandle. 

Manno is also the author of a third novel, Voodoo Rush, winner for Best Fiction of 2018 by the North Texas Book Festival, and a collection of short stories titled Short Fiction for the Impatient Reader. Both books are available from White Bird Publications of Austin Texas. 

Website  ║  Facebook ║ Twitter Amazon Author Page

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Pecos Bill: Fact or Fiction?

Pecos Bill is a character most often associated with American folklore; the tall tales, myths and legends about fictional and real individuals whose stories embodied the pioneer spirit and captured the imagination of the American public.

The author Edward S. O’Reilly first introduced the fictional Pecos Bill in the early 1900’s in stories written for “The Century Magazine,” a monthly periodical published in New York that promoted American nationalism through stories that emphasized such values as strength and courage in humorous exaggerated narratives. Pecos Bill was the personification of the western hero – orphaned as a baby during a trek westward with his family, raised by coyotes, ultimately stumbling on his true calling as the quintessential cowboy. Pecos Bill is credited with inventing calf roping and cattle branding and creation of the six-shooter.

His popularity was such that these stories were collected into a book, “The Saga of Pecos Bill,” published in 1923. Bill’s exaggerated exploits would also capture the imagination of Walt Disney who in 1948 introduced the character in an animated short that accompanied his movie “Melody Time.” Disney Studios would later make the short into a stand-alone film featuring Pecos Bill, his horse Widowmaker, and his lady-love, Slue-Foot Sue that aired on television in 1954 as one of Disney’s “Tall Tales” episodes.

The flesh and blood Pecos Bill was also larger than life. William Rufus Shafter weighed in at over 300 pounds. He was hardly the image of a career military officer, however, in July 1875, in command of the Tenth Cavalry, the Twenty-Fourth and Twenty-Fifth Infantry, and both Tonkawa and Seminole Indian scouts, he mounted an expedition against the Apache that would last over six months, cover over 2,500 miles, and earn him his nickname.

In addition to the Apache, the terrain across the Llano Estacado in West Texas and in the Big Bend area of South Texas was both treacherous and unforgiving. Water, or the lack thereof, was just as much the enemy as the Plains Indians. The Buffalo Soldiers under his command were exhausted and dying not only from their human adversary but thirst. It was up to their commander to lead them to the Pecos River if they were to have any chance for survival.

The stretch of river wasn’t overflowing with water, but when you’re in possession of the only water source anywhere around, it looked like the oasis that it was. The men’s doubts and anger were forgotten. Many dismounted and abandoned their mounts;not a good idea since, left to their own devices, the horses also headed straight to the water where they would drink way too much and potentially harm themselves. Right now, the men didn’t care. Many dove head first into the water, shouting and carrying on like kids who’d just received their best gift ever. “Hurrah for Colonel Shafter,” went up the cry… only to be replaced by – “Hurrah for Pecos Bill. Hurrah for Pecos Bill! That’s his name now”… and it would be; William Rufus Shafter would carry the nickname for the rest of his life. – Excerpt from Palo Duro.