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!
BLOOD AND REMEMBRANCE
by
CHRIS MANNO
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.
CLICK TO BUY
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

————————————-
GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
THREE SIGNED COPIES!
(U.S. Only)

CLICK TO ENTER TO WIN!

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/20/18
Promo
4/21/18
Review
4/22/18
Author Interview
4/23/18
Promo
4/24/18
Review
4/25/18
Promo
4/26/18
Promo
4/27/18
Review
4/28/18
Promo
4/29/18
Review

 

  blog tour services provided by

  

 

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.

 

Bad Hand

 

From 1871-1874 Colonel Ranald S. Mackenzie distinguished himself in military campaigns against the Comanche, Kiowa, and Apache. He’d already made an indelible impression on General Ulysses S. Grant during the American Civil War by his valor, gallantry, and meritorious conduct in several seminal battles including Second Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, and Petersburg. Grant would describe him as “the Union Army’s most promising young officer,” and assign him to duty on the Texas frontier. The Southern Plains Indian tribes would give him the name Bad Hand for wounds sustained at the battle of Petersburg where he’d lost two fingers on his right hand.

Initially, Mackenzie commanded one of the all black regiments, the Forty-First Infantry, made up of freedmen and former slaves, commonly known today as Buffalo Soldiers. Their exemplary record of accomplishments under his leadership at a time when institutional racial prejudice still existed in the Army brought him to the attention of General William Tecumseh Sherman. Sherman would re-assign him to Fort Richardson, Texas at the head of the 4th U.S. Cavalry, and task him with implementing Grant’s Quaker Peace Policy.

More than any policy, however, it would be Mackenzie’s tenacity against the Southern Plains Indians that led to their eventual defeat and subjugation. He would put an end (for a time) to the Apache raids against settlers along the Rio Grande by boldly crossing the border to attack their encampments at Remolino, Mexico. He would mount multiple expeditions into the previously unexplored Llano Estacado (Staked Plain,) each foray yielding new new information and tactics to be used against the Comanche and Kiowa, finally resulting in the decisive engagement against these tribes at Palo Duro Canyon September 28, 1874, and an end to the Red River War.

Ranald Mackenzie surveyed the burned encampments. All his efforts seemed to point to another campaign where he’d been unable to keep the Indians from escaping; another failure. He then looked toward the captured horses. Past experience told him he would be unable to keep the pony herd intact all the way back to friendly lines. The Indians would once again mount raids to recapture their mounts and the cycle of resistance and the so called “Red River War” would continue. Mackenzie had long since hardened himself against any pity for the enemy and now knew what was required of him. He ordered his Adjutant to drive the pony herd to Tule Canyon, to select fresh mounts for the troop and his Tonkawa Scouts, and to shoot all the remaining horses. – Excerpt from Palo Duro.

Read the book to learn more about the Plains Indian Wars, Ranald Mackenzie, and this gut wrenching decision!

 

 

 

Alternative History

BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION

COMING TO

LONE STAR BOOK BLOG TOURS

MAY 17-26, 2018

Dam NationThe year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting folks back to work. So, why is someone trying to blow it up? That’s what Bonnie and Clyde set out to uncover in the novel Dam Nation by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall, the second book in a provocative speculative fiction series that re-imagines the outlaws’ lives.

Bonnie and Clyde #2

by

CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance

Publisher: Pumpjack Press

Date of Publication: March 24, 2018

Number of Pages: 266

EXCERPT

The Texas Ranger looked up at Sal, a mixture of fear, respect and revulsion in his eyes. “Let’s pretend for a minute it wasn’t Bonnie and Clyde in that ambush,” he said. “Why? Why would it be different people in that car?”

“How would I know?” Sal asked. “I work for the government. I trust that the government has my best interests at heart. I follow orders. You didn’t.”

“I won’t be quiet about this unless you can tell me why anyone would try to save them outlaws.”

“If they were still alive, I would tell you that everyone has a purpose in life, and perhaps they are fulfilling theirs. And if they were still alive, I would tell you that you don’t use good dogs to guard the junkyard, you use the meanest goddamn dogs you can get a collar around.”

PRAISE FOR DAM NATION

“A rollicking good read; vivid, engrossing and hard to put down! Dam Nation is the second book in the speculative fiction series; but newcomers need no prior familiarity with the series, in order to find it accessible.” Midwest Book Review

ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book.

Authors Hays_Mcfall Photo

Twitter ║ Facebook ║ Instagram

blog tour services provided by

Book Blog Tours

 

 

 

   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Texas Literary Scene

Book Blog Tours

I know you’ve seen the Lone Star Literary Life logo on my blog before, specifically this past January when they featured my historical novel Palo Duro on one of their blog tours, and most recently when it appeared again in their “Texas Reads” section on March 11th.

Because of their commitment to advancing Texas authors and their works and my wholehearted support of that effort, I recently asked if I might join their team of bloggers. I’m very pleased to announce that I was accepted and will henceforth be using this forum to not only post about my books, but to also write reviews and carry promotions on the latest releases and tours in the Lone Star State.

I hope to add my voice and perspective to the ongoing efforts of the professionals at Lone Star Literary Life who strive to encourage literacy throughout this great State by informing the public about Texas writers and their books. Look for related posts in the weeks to come, and in the interim be sure to check out their website!