North To Alaska: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Review & Giveaway

NORTH TO ALASKA

The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax, #6
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Historical Fiction / Western / Humor
Publisher: Wolfpack Publishing
Date of Publication: August 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 414

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WEALTH AND FAME IN THE WILD WEST ARE WHAT LOMAX SEEKS . . . HIS OWN BAD LUCK IS WHAT STANDS IN HIS WAY.
Swindled out of a mining fortune in Colorado and blamed for an ensuing murder, H. H. Lomax two decades later must finally face up to his past in Skagway, Alaska. Along the way, he encounters legendary madam Mattie Silks, suffragist Susan B. Anthony, novelist Jack London, and a talking dog.
To survive his previous missteps and avoid a prison sentence for theft, Lomax must outshoot infamous Western conman Soapy Smith, outwit an unrelenting Wells Fargo investigator, and outrun Shotgun Jake Townsend, the greatest frontier assassin who never was.
Four Stars

Many a tall tale and legend have their origin in stories of the Wild Wild West. Few, however, are as colorful, humorous, often outrageous, and thoroughly enjoyable as the adventures of H.H. (Henry Harrison) Lomax.

In the six novels by award winning author Preston Lewis, readers have followed the character’s journeys and escapades throughout the frontier from his origins in Northwest Arkansas to his latest efforts to find fame and fortune in Colorado and Alaska.

The recollection of his life and times are allegedly taken directly from Lomax’s memoirs found in the archives at Texas Tech University. Lewis admits that he “cannot vouch for their complete authenticity,” but also states that unlike many academic historians, rather than question Lomax’s credibility as an observer of historical events or his acquaintance with many famous icons of the Old West, he’s focused on Lomax’s ability as “a storyteller of the first rank… a chronicler of the historical and the hysterical West.”

North to Alaska picks up the saga in the year 1877. The previous year Lomax survived Custer’s ill-fated campaign against the Plains Indians at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and settled for awhile in Deadwood in the Dakota Territory where he’s linked to Wild Bill Hickok who is gunned down in a saloon while playing poker. Since some observers believe that Lomax may have distracted the famed gunman allowing Jack McCall to shoot him from behind, he again hits the trail arriving in Denver, Colorado where he finds employment as a bodyguard to the famous Denver madam, Mattie Silks.

Certainly Henry Harrison is no shootist, but when he doesn’t discourage speculation that he was the one to teach Wild Bill Hickok the fast draw and how to shoot, he’s hired on to protect Mattie and her lover Cort Thomson from a rival madam, Kate Fulton, and a phantom assassin conjured from his own imagination, Shotgun Jake Townsend. With the help of Mattie’s cook and housekeeper, Lupe – Lomax describes her as having “the biggest heart of any woman he’d met in a brothel” – he devises an elaborate ruse that makes enough “protection money” to set her up for life and provide him with a grubstake for a mining venture in the town of Leadville.

It’s here that Lomax is introduced to Susan B. Anthony. “If ever a woman had been suckled on lemons and preserved in vinegar, she was it!” It’s only a brief encounter, but since rumors seem to spring up about anything or anybody Lomax is a party to, he’s forever romantically linked with the suffragist.

Lomax has never been good at holding onto money, and is soon scammed out of the mine and all his cash by an unscrupulous lawyer, Adam “Noose Neck” Scheisse, who, it turns out, works in cahoots with the notorious crime boss and conman, Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith. Not only that, but after drowning his sorrows in a bottle of whiskey, Lomax wakes up to find himself accused of murdering the lawyer who bilked him out of his claim and money.

There’s an interlude at this point in the book that briefly describes Lomax wandering the West while constantly looking over his shoulder for anyone looking to collect the $500 bounty on his head. He then ends up in San Francisco where an unexpected windfall (courtesy of an unlocked Wells Fargo strongbox) is the money he needs to head to the Alaska gold fields. “Finders keepers is what I always heard, and I didn’t see any point in countering that adage.” Of course, now there’s a Wells Fargo Special Investigator on his tail, so Lomax assumes the alias Jessie Murphy.

It’s now the year 1897 and the Klondike Gold Rush is luring hundreds of travelers to the Chilkoot Mountains looking to strike it rich. Initially intent on trying his luck, he instead partners up with Roger Meredith, a thespian and ventriloquist, to open the Gold Dust Saloon and Grand Opera House in Skagway, Alaska. But with every honest citizen he meets, to include the writer Jack London who he remembers as “Jack Paris or Jack Madrid or something like that,” there are conmen, pickpockets, thieves, and scoundrels of every stripe. Organized crime and escalating violence aren’t far behind, which soon brings Lomax back in contact with Soapy Smith and his gang.

It also brings Mattie Silks to Skagway to scope out a location for her new brothel. Fortuitously, she overhears a conversation in which Soapy admits to framing Lomax back in Leadville, plans for his assassination, and plans to kill her as well. Mattie doesn’t stick around long enough for the plan to be carried out, but she does expose the corruption in Skagway on her return to Seattle which sets up the final confrontation and shootout on Juneau Wharf.

History records that Soapy Smith was killed on Juneau Wharf July 8, 1898. It doesn’t comment on the personal losses suffered by Jessie Murphy (his dog Buck and Ella Wilson, a “soiled dove” who plied her trade at the Gold Dust, were both victims of the violence.) Nor does it record the arrival of a Wells Fargo Special Investigator by the name of Dayle Lymoine, looking to recover the cash pilfered by H.H. Lomax.

Looking to get his name and reputation back, Lomax sells his stake in the Gold Dust and returns to San Francisco with the detective. Even after repaying the money, he fully expects Wells Fargo to press charges. Instead, he’s asked by the lawyers if the rumors are true that he had a relationship with the famed suffragist.  “As for pressing charges, we’ve decided courting Susan B. Anthony was punishment enough for a man’s lifetime.”

So ends this chapter in H.H. Lomax’s life.

North to Alaska contains many of the same elements that make Preston Lewis’ books both accurate in historical fact and fun to read for his reinterpretation of these events and the people involved. Was H.H. (Henry Harrison) Lomax an eye witness to history? Did he really live to write his memoirs or is he solely the construct of Lewis’ imagination? Readers might think it absurd to even ask these questions, but it’s a credit to a very talented author that the mere mention of Lomax’s name evokes statements from people like… “I’ve heard of him. Wasn’t he someone famous in the Old West?”

Each volume in this saga needs to be read and enjoyed, yet each stands alone. Preston Lewis does an excellent job of bringing new readers up to speed on Lomax’s past exploits, and he also summarizes his latest adventures and the people involved in the Introduction to each book. Knowing the plot before you open the first chapter may seem counterintuitive, but even my summation of North to Alaska doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s in store for readers. The joy is in the storytelling, not the historical facts. So, whether it’s H.H. Lomax or Preston Lewis that’s the master storyteller, the Old West is brought to life in a manner that makes you anxiously await the next release.

The archives tell us that H.H. Lomax passed away in 1933. This novel ends in 1898. I for one hope that there are many more adventures to come!

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

———————–

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TWO WINNERS: 1ST PRIZE: Signed copies of North to Alaska and First Herd to
Abilene
2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of North to Alaska.
OCTOBER 20-30, 2020
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
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10/20/20

Excerpt

Texas Book Lover

10/20/20

BONUS Post

Hall Ways Blog

10/21/20

Review

Max
Knight

10/22/20

Character Interview

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/23/20

Review

Forgotten
Winds

10/24/20

Series Spotlight

All the Ups and Downs

10/25/20

Author Interview

Reading
by Moonlight

10/26/20

Review

Book
Bustle

10/27/20

Review

It’s Not All Gravy

10/28/20

Scrapbook Page

StoreyBook Reviews

10/29/20

Review

The Clueless Gent

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Low Water Crossing: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Scrapbook Page

 
 
 
LOW WATER CROSSING
Book Two of the Sulfur Gap Series
by
DANA GLOSSBRENNER
 
Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Saga 
Independently published
Date of Publication: July 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 476
 
  Scroll down for the giveaway!

 
Low Water Crossing is a tribute to those who endure heartache and nevertheless celebrate, to those who wait—and live full lives while waiting.

A backhoe unearths a human skeleton buried on Wayne Cheadham’s West Texas ranch. The investigation points a grisly finger at Wayne’s first wife. And so begins the wild ride through twenty-five years of love and heartbreak. 
 
Wayne’s a highly eligible bachelor who runs into trouble, first because he’s naïve, and next because, well, life is unpredictable. He’s a loveable guy with a peaceful outlook. Just about anyone wants the best for him, dang it. To cope with sadness, he arranges for an old steel-girded bridge to be placed in the dry pasture in front of his house. Says it helps him adjust his perspective. Others say it’s the world’s largest yard ornament. He takes in stray emus and abandoned horses and becomes a mentor to a loveable little boy without much family. He sits and ponders his plight at a low-water crossing over the creek.

A cast of characters from the fictional small West Texas town of Sulfur Gap
the staff of a high school burger shop hangout on the Interstate, coffee groups at the Navaho Café, hair stylists from the Wild Hare, a local sheriff and his deputies, and the band at the local honky-tonkknits together the community surrounding Wayne, and all bring their own quirks. People you’d find anywhere, some with thicker Texas twangs than others. 

The town, the ranch, and familiar Texas cities such as San Angelo, Abilene, and Austin provide a backdrop for universal themes of love, grief, and loyalty.
                          
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Dana Glossbrenner’s Inspiration Scrapbook for Low Water Crossing

My husband, Jim, took all these shots in the last fifteen years or so. Each photo has been tucked into my memory bank and provided ideas for the story.

  1.  My aunt’s ranch is the site of an abandoned gravel pit mound, sprouting weeds. Production stopped for reasons unknown to me, but at the time I thought, “What a cool plot if a human skeleton were unearthed at a gravel pit.” The image fits with Wayne’s lament: “No oil wells. No wind turbines. Is it too much to ask to have a gravel pit without a skeleton?”
  2. My rancher cousin really did salvage an old bridge that was replaced on a county road. It became Wayne’s “World’s Largest Yard Ornament.” Ugly, but sentimental. In the book, it’s spruced up.
  3. My sweet Aunt Barbara inspired the character Katy Cheadham. Her ranch dogs became Rufus and Redneck in Low Water Crossing.
  4. A rescue horse like the ones Wayne adopted.
  5. The best dog I’ve ever known was Blue. I used his personality for Flo.
  6. An ordinary sight, a windmill, became a special place in both The Lark and Low Water Crossing. Long-recognized icons, over 80,000 windmills operate in Texas. San Angelo hosts the only windmill manufacturer and parts supplier in the United States. Aermotor, a company over a hundred years old, made all the windmills, some still operating.
  7. Big Bend vista. We fudged the geography a bit and used the image on the cover of The Lark.
  8. I kept my eyes peeled forever and finally found a suitable low-water crossing to use on the cover of the book. A bit of geographical cheating went on here, too, as this crossing is up the road from Fort McKavett State Historic Site, east of the desert vibe of West Texas.

 
Dana Glossbrenner has lived in West Texas all her life. She is the author of Women Behind Stained Glass: West Texas Pioneers (non-fiction) and The Lark: Book 1 of the Sulfur Gap Series.
 
 
 
 
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TWO WINNERS: 1st winner gets signed copies of both books in the Sulfur Gap Series; 2nd winner gets a signed copy of Low Water Crossing. 
 October 6-16 , 2020
(U.S. Only)
 
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. 
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10/6/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

10/7/20

Excerpt

Texas Book Lover

10/7/20

BONUS Post

Hall Ways Blog

10/8/20

Playlist

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/9/20

Review

Bibliotica

10/10/20

Deleted Scene

All the Ups and Downs

10/11/20

Author Interview

The Page Unbound

10/12/20

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

10/13/20

Scrapbook Page

Max Knight

10/14/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

10/15/20

Review

The Clueless Gent

 
  
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6 Feet Under Texas: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Review

 

 
SIX FEET UNDER TEXAS:
 Unique, Famous, & Historic Graves in the Lone Star State
(Cemetery Tales Book 1)
by
TUI SNIDER
  
Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / History / Texas Travel
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: August 15, 2020
Number of Pages: 250 pages 
 
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Explore the cemeteries of Texas with Tui Snider as she reveals overlooked history in these fascinating open-air museums. 
 
Along the way, you’ll meet fascinating characters, including a whistleblower who died in suspicious circumstances, an oilman who added a phone line to his mausoleum, and the events that caused two “frenemies” to be chained together in death.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

I have to admit that when I read Tui Snider’s latest book, 6 Feet Under Texas, I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. When I received my advanced copy I devoured it in one sitting, which should definitely let loyal followers and prospective readers know that it takes no time to exhaust its 250 pages. It’s a quick, easy, and enjoyable read. That said, however, when I was done reading it, it really didn’t stay with me nor did it prompt me to want to necessarily travel to these cemeteries and gravesites.

OK… I’m admittedly the odd man out. Having grown up in Texas and calling San Antonio home for almost fifty-four years, I’m certainly aware that there are countless cemeteries scattered all across the Lone Star State containing the remains of the famous and the obscure, and that Tui has specialized in writing about these well-known and offbeat locations, the people buried there and their stories, building a readership through this release and similar publications like Paranormal Texas, Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and Graveyard Journal. There’s a quirky weirdness to these books that draws in the curious and those pursuing serious historical research, but it’s just not something that keeps my attention for long.

We all tend to read and react to books based on our own personal tastes, but when reviewing any book I try to put those prejudices and preferences aside. So, my first thought (upon reflection) was to just have fun with the book and enjoy it. It’s refreshing to read something informative and Tui’s storytelling style is like having a conversation with her, or perhaps more like listening to her actually narrate tidbits of information or anecdotal facts based on her personal travels.

She should definitely be credited for actually visiting these 28 cemeteries in North and East Texas and including their physical locations, directions to specific gravesites, and websites at the end of each chapter, but it’s her photos that truly bring these places and individuals to life, not just with words but with visual references.

With Halloween just around the corner, one might think the book’s release is timed to take advantage of All Hallows Eve. However, there is nothing ghoulish, spooky, or morbid about any of the entries in the book’s 50 chapters.

A second volume to 6 Feet Under Texas is apparently in the works, and there are certainly many more cemeteries and stories to be told. Thinking back on my opening comments, I think part of the reason that I wasn’t sure of my reaction is that the book ended very abruptly. That’s because each entry is self-contained, and there is no connection between them other than the occasional person or persons interred in the same Texas Town. In her introduction to the book where she mentions that she’ll be traveling and writing about cemeteries in South Texas, the author asks for suggestions about Volume II. Mine would simply be to tie it all together somehow to give the volumes context and closure.  

 
Tui Snider is an author, speaker, photographer, YouTuber, podcast host, and musician who researches historic cemeteries and symbolism, offbeat Texas travel, overlooked history, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction–but then I moved to Texas!” 
 
Snider’s best-selling books include Understanding Cemetery Symbols, 100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You Die, Paranormal Texas, and many more. Snider has several books in progress and enjoys connecting with readers all over the globe through social media, her weekly newsletter, and website: TuiSnider.com.
 
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  September 29-October 9, 2020
 
 
 

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9/29/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

9/29/20

Review

Rainy Days with Amanda

9/30/20

Review

Momma on the Rocks

10/1/20

Review

Missus Gonzo

10/1/20

Review

The Clueless Gent

10/2/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

10/2/20

Review

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/3/20

Review

Forgotten Winds

10/4/20

Review

That’s What She’s Reading

10/5/20

Review

Chapter Break Book Blog

10/6/20

Review

Hall Ways Blog

10/7/20

Review

Max Knight

10/7/20

Review

All the Ups and Downs

10/8/20

Review

It’s Not All Gravy

10/8/20

Review

Book Fidelity

 
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The Diary of Asser Levy: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Author Interview

 
 

THE DIARY OF ASSER LEVY
First Jewish Citizen
of New York
by
DANIELA WEIL
 
Genre: Historical Fiction / Middle Grade / Jewish / Colonial America
Publisher: Pelican (Arcadia Publishing)
Date of Publication: March 9, 2020
Number of Pages: 128
 
  Scroll down for the giveaway!

 
For twenty-four years the Dutch colony of Pernambuco in northeastern Brazil was a safe haven for Jews who had escaped the Inquisition in Europe. Recife, its capital, was known as “Colonial Jerusalem,” and it was from this religiously tolerant town that Asser Levy tells his story. When the Portuguese recaptured the territory in 1654, they brought the Inquisition and its torments with them, forcing Asser and his family and friends to flee to Holland. About fifteen ships arrive safely in Holland; Asser’s ship does not. 
 
Through imagined diary entries based on real events, Asser tells the harrowing story of the Jewish refugees who arrived on the island of Manhattan and of some of the first court battles fought to allow religious freedom in America.
                          
PRAISE FOR THE DIARY OF ASSER LEVY: 
“The book breathes life into a little-known yet important Jewish figure of early New Amsterdam and New York. Through a series of diary entries based on fact and the author’s creation, the author brings out the emotion, drama, and conflicts of Asser Levy’s turbulent journey to a new land in search of religious freedom. … The book will add color to classroom lessons on early US history and on Jewish immigration.” —Paul Kaplan, author of Jewish New York: A History and Guide to Neighborhoods, Synagogues, and Eateries 

“What an extraordinary amount of research went into it! And what a creative way of combining historical fiction and contemporary pictures. Kudos!” —Cynthia Levinson, author of The Youngest Marcher

“What a fine job [Daniela] did with this story! … The diary-style keeps the pace moving, and the adventures make it exciting. Lots of setting details bring the scenes alive, and the dialogue engages the reader in the plot. I can see how it will be easy for a young reader to identify with Asser, worrying about how (and if) he’ll succeed in his quest.” —Gail Jarrow, author of Fatal Fever
 
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Interview with Daniela Weil

 The Diary of Asser Levy: First Jewish Citizen of New York is a truly special book for your readers. I had a feeling that the “story behind the story” was going to be very interesting! I couldn’t wait to learn more about Daniel’s research and writing process. Tell me how you discovered the existence of Asser Levy and what drew you to write about him?

 I had not heard about Asser Levy, even though I was familiar with the story of the twenty-three Jews that arrived in New York from Brazil in 1654. I am Brazilian, and in Brazil, that history is so well known that it was even a theme of the carnaval parade in Rio a couple of years ago. It was only once I began more in-depth research that I learned about Asser Levy. He is perhaps our first Jewish-American “hero.”

In New York he is relatively well known, and there are several landmarks named after him. But outside of New York, most people, including Jews, have not really heard of him. He is a four-hundred-year-old version of the classic “American Dream” story. He arrived as an immigrant in a foreign land with nothing; faced hostility, religious persecution, and adversity; fought for his rights in court and won; worked hard; became a Jewish trailblazer (first Jewish citizen, first kosher butcher, first Jewish landowner), gathered substantial wealth; and made history.

Your story dates back to the 1600s. What were some of the challenges you faced doing research from so long ago? 

That is a great question. It is very hard to research primary sources from that long ago, especially if they are written in old Dutch. I read most, if not all, of the academic papers written by historians and went through their citations, always digging for the primary sources. Some sources I was able to find translated, but there is dispute among historians as to the accuracy of the translations, which leads to controversies in the story. Other documents I found with the help of a Dutch colleague in the online archives of the Dutch West India Company.

Some parts of the story are just not documented, and historians fill in the gaps with their best theories. I found that the most challenging part of my research was believing in a possible version of the story that differed from the current views of historians, based on the evidence I found. Since I am not a historian, I didn’t have much credibility amongst the scholars and was sometimes seen as a “historical heretic,” which is interesting because my heroes were all dealing with being heretics as well.

But I did ultimately find support from some people who are experts in New Netherland history, and they helped me to find confidence in my theory and move forward. Also, fictionalizing the story opens room for interpretation, but I’d love the readers to understand that much of what I wrote is based on history.

You do a lovely job of weaving historical facts with your story’s narrative. Can you share a bit about your writing process?

 I wrote many, many versions of the book before it became what it is. I started out writing a nonfiction picture book, which was well within my comfort area for writing. But I soon noticed that nonfiction was going to be hard to pull off while still being able to make the story appealing for youth.

I thought that I could focus on Asser Levy since he is such a classic protagonist and a named historical figure, and Stuyvesant is a fantastic antagonist (and so much more, really). So, I decided to write it from Asser Levy’s point of view, starting out with him as a young adult so that kids could identify with him, and have him narrate the history.

But I also did not want to lose all the nonfiction elements that I had so thoroughly gathered. In my mind’s eye, the book was a blend of nonfiction and fiction, a fusion. But this genre doesn’t really officially exist, and I struggled with its acceptance in the editorial world. I am very happy that Pelican allowed me to fulfill it in the vision that I had for it.

What are some interesting facts you learned about New York history that you didn’t include in your final draft?

Oh my God, I knew very little about the American Dutch Colonial period before my research, and I became a total New Amsterdam fanatic! There was really a lot more that I could have said about New Amsterdam. So many interesting stories there. Perhaps I will write them one day.

Did you know that it was through New Amsterdam that Santa Klaus arrived in the US? That Stuyvesant had a pear tree he planted which lived until relatively recently, and you can still visit that location? That a Black surgeon practiced medicine in New Amsterdam? The story of the slave Manuel de Gerrit the Reus and how he drew the short straw to be hung and was saved by divine intervention. The Flushing Remonstrance, the very first religious freedom uprising—I can go on and on!

The book design is very interesting—lots of graphic elements as well as the use of a font style that is helpful for readers with dyslexia. Did you have any input on the design? What was your reaction when you first saw the completed book?

Thank you for that compliment. I did have a vision for the design and offered to do the book layout myself, which Pelican accepted. I made the cover and collected and arranged all the visuals in the book. It was my editor (Nina Kooij’s) idea to have the book printed in OpenDyslexic; it would work well visually with the sort of diary-ish, handwritten look and accommodate a whole other reading audience who is often overlooked.

When I saw the book for the first time, I could not believe it actually existed. I spent the last six years working on it, and there were many more times that I believed it would never exist than that it would get printed one day. I was very pleased with how it looked. And yet, as a published author, you feel so vulnerable because now people will actually read it and you’re exposed to criticism and reviews and all of that. But so far, I think people are pleased with it, and I hope that many middle schoolers (and their parents) learn about this incredible story.

First posted at Jewish Books for Kids, May 3, 2020

Daniela Weil was born in Brazil. She attended the International School in São Paulo, where she was surrounded by people and cultures from around the world. It was also there that she developed a passion for nature, art, and writing. After earning a BA in biology from Brandeis University in Boston, Weil became a field research biologist. She participated in various whale projects, including illustrating the first field guide for whales and dolphins in Brazil.

Being a mother rekindled her desire to share her passion about the natural world. She joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and attended workshops on writing nonfiction and science for kids. After writing several articles on science and history, she ventured into books. Weil attended the Texas Library Association annual conference with her SCBWI group and met the folks from Pelican, who were intrigued by her middle-grade book idea. As the project developed, her research took her back to Brazil and across the world, chasing Asser’s experiences.

When not on the hunt for new experiences, Weil makes her home in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Erik, and daughter, Lucy.
 
 
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 September 22-October 2, 2020
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9/22/20

Book Trailer

Chapter Break Book Blog

9/22/20

BONUS Post

Hall Ways Blog

9/23/20

Author Interview

Max Knight

9/24/20

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

9/25/20

Sneak Peek

Texas Book Lover

9/26/20

Review

Reading by Moonlight

9/27/20

Author Interview

Story Schmoozing Book Reviews

9/28/20

Top Ten

All the Ups and Downs

9/29/20

Review

Librariel Book Adventures

9/30/20

Scrapbook Page

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

10/1/20

Review

Book Bustle

 
 
   
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Slanted Light: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Author Interview

SLANTED LIGHT
Jackson’s Pond Texas Series, Book 2
by
Teddy Jones
 
Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Saga / Western Women / Rural Fiction 
Publication Date: August 21, 2020
Number of Pages: 275
 
 Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

Teddy Jones’s earlier novel, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, began the saga of the Jackson family. Now, Slanted Light continues their tale. 

 
Claire Havlicek’s late night call brings her brother Chris Banks from his home in New Mexico back to the town that bears their family name, Jackson’s Pond. She’s collapsed under the weight of threats to her thirteen-year marriage that have undermined her confidence and her will. Her husband, J. D., responds to seduction by a woman in need; theft and the threat of a forced buyout jeopardize Claire’s two medical clinics; drought imperils their ranch and cattle business; a teenage daughter turns to bulimia. 
 
When Claire admits her limits, her grandmother, Willa Jackson, and the other members of her family help her learn that being human, weaknesses and all, can be a source of strength and joy.
 
 
 
 

Interview with Teddy Jones, author of Slanted Light

 What made you decide to write a sequel?

Many people who enjoyed Jackson’s Pond, Texas commented that they wondered what happened next. At first, I answered that I had no idea. But after some time, I realized I wondered that, too.

What if? That’s the fiction writer’s most important question and a prime motivator for me. So, I began making notes, thinking about Willa Jackson, who was the focal character in Jackson’s Pond, Texas; about her daughter, Melanie; and about Claire, wondering what happened next in their lives. Of course, it wasn’t possible to think about those women without asking the same question about other family members. The only way to know what happened to that family, it seemed, was to write. As I wrote, the things that happened, the possibilities that events created, came to me almost faster than I could get them on paper.

I was never stuck without something to write about next; there was so much the characters “told me” that I had to begin keeping up with events and people on a story board of sorts. In the more typical sense of that term, the story board is a planning aid, a graphic organizer for planning a story. But my organizer was not a plan but a way for me to keep track of what was happening with the members of Willa’s family—not an outline, but a map of discovery.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

The hardest part of writing Slanted Light was overcoming my tendency to make the characters’ lives easy, happy, having everyone get along. One of my mentors pointed to that tendency in my writing early on. He said, “You love your characters and want their lives to be happy. But lives that are constantly happy don’t make good fiction.” I took that guidance to heart. My stories have conflict and tough situations and even some peril and death. But it’s not easy for me to do that to the characters I’ve come to know.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

I enjoyed a great deal of the background research for Slanted Light, and the process of seeing the whole come together from the parts is always invigorating. But to choose one thing I enjoyed most in writing Slanted Light, I would say it was seeing Claire develop as a professional and as a woman who, at thirty-four, has accomplished a great deal; watching her cope with the conflicts she encounters; and seeing her, with the help of her family, grow as a person. I admit it—I want her and her family to be happy.

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or life?

I do. Thanks for asking. It is this: Every day, the two most important things are to learn something and to do some good for others.

Teddy Jones is the author of three other published novels, Halfwide, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, and Well Tended, as well as a collection of short stories, Nowhere Near. Her short fiction received the Gold Medal First Prize in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2015. Jackson’s Pond, Texas was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in contemporary fiction from Women Writing the West. Her as-yet-unpublished novel, Making It Home, was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2017 and “A Good Family” was named a finalist in that contest in 2018.
 
Jones grew up in Iowas Park, a small Texas town. She has worked as a nurse, a nurse educator, a nursing-college administrator, and as a nurse practitioner in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. For the past twenty years, she and her husband have lived in the rural West Texas Panhandle, where he farms and she writes.
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THREE WINNERS!  First Winner Signed copies of both Jackson’s Pond, Texas Series books + $25 Amazon gift card Second and Third Winners Signed copy of Slanted Light 
AUGUST 25-SEPTEMBER 4, 2020 
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8/25/20
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8/25/20
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8/26/20
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8/26/20
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8/27/20
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8/28/20
Review
8/29/20
Excerpt
8/30/20
Guest Post
8/31/20
Review
9/1/20
Top Five List
9/2/20
Review
9/3/20
Review
 
 
 
 
 
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The Black Midnight: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Guest Post

THE BLACK MIDNIGHT
by
Kathleen Y’Barbo

Genre: Fiction / Historical Mystery / True Crime 
Publisher: Barbour Books
Publication Date: August 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 257
 Scroll down for the giveaway!

Two killers, two detectives, and a menace called The Black Midnight may be the death of both of them.
Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, a killer struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Austin, Texas. Some believe one man is responsible for both, while others lay the blame at the feet of someone close to the queen herself. With suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin murders case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter. One man is essential to her team, and she doesn’t want to consider taking on this challenge without his expertise. Unfortunately, he’s back in Texas, with a bad attitude and a new profession. 

The prospect of a second chance at catching the man who terrorized Austin three years ago just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer, even if it does mean working with the Queen’s great-granddaughter again. If his theories are right, they’ll find the Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the lady detective left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago. 
 
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.

PRAISE for The Black Midnight:
“Warning! Don’t read this historical romantic suspense at night!” DiAnn Mills, Expect an Adventure 
 
“Impeccably researched with sparkling dialogue and riveting history, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight puts a pair of star-crossed Pinkerton detectives on the trail of a Texas killer who may also be the notorious Jack the Ripper. Very highly recommended and sure to keep you reading well past your bedtime!!” Colleen Thompson, RITA-nominated author of Deadly Texas Summer 
 
“You’re in for a wild ride as Kathleen Y’Barbo takes you on a story through some of America and Britain’s grisliest murders and somehow manages to weave in a delicious romance. From Texas to London, the ties that bind may be more linked than you previously believed. Settle in for a novel of suspense and romancejust be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then!” Jaime Jo Wright, 2018 Christy Award-winning author of The House on Foster Hill and 2020 Inspy Award-nominated The Curse of Misty Wayfair
 
 
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GuestPost

The London-Austin Connections

Guest Post by Kathleen Y’Barbo,
author of The Black Midnight

I am a tenth-generation Texan, but London has held a place in my heart for over ten years. You see, I have a son who has lived there for more than a decade. Thanks to him and his family of three—my granddaughter was born there on New Year’s Eve 2019—the city will always be special to me.

The Black Midnight Image001There is absolutely nothing like walking those streets, with a thousand years of history close enough to touch. It was on a walk with my son through this great city that the stories of nineteenth-century London came alive.

With fog shrouding the rooftops of buildings that were hundreds of years old, and our footsteps echoing on the cobblestones, I could imagine a time when lack of electricity and CCTV would make this place less than charming on a dark night—less than safe. What reminded me of my favorite childhood movie, Mary Poppins, quickly became more reminiscent of Jack the Ripper. And then a story was born.

Only I just had half the story.

The other half came to me several years later when I stumbled across an article, in Texas Monthly magazine, about a serial killer who rampaged through Austin, Texas, in 1884 and 1885 and was never caught. Some surmised this madman, called “The Midnight Assassin” by some, might have been Jack the Ripper, honing his skills before he crossed the Atlantic to begin his famous crime spree in Great Britain.

But Austin?

The Black Midnight Image002Ironically, my other two sons lived in Austin. So while part of my heart was in London, two more parts of that same heart resided in the Texas capital. I thought I knew Austin inside out. Between one of my sons getting not one but two degrees from the University of Texas (This Aggie grad is still proud of him, in spite of what I jokingly call his “burnt orange rebellion.”), and my other son living there and managing a restaurant at the time (And who just graduated from Texas A&M Galveston in May!), I had spent many years in the city. And yet I had never heard of the Midnight Assassin.

Research turned up a tale that sounds so close to fiction I had to write about it. Discovering the theory that the Austin killer might also be the Ripper just added to my interest—neither had been caught. And I like to write about Pinkerton detectives.

From there the story unfolded. If you’ve read any of my historical romances, you know that I love incorporating actual history into my stories. As you’ll see when you read The Black Midnight, this book is no exception. While I will continue writing the historical romances I love to bring to you, I will confess that writing this book has me itching to research another one like it.

What’s next in my foray into true-crime novels? Maybe Houston. You see, I have a daughter who lives there . . .

In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy reading The Black Midnight as much as I enjoyed writing it!

 

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than eighty books, with almost two million in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine.

Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love, and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride, River of Life, and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.


 
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon  Goodreads
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8/6/20
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8/6/20
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8/7/20
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8/8/20
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8/9/20
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8/10/20
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8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Guest Post
8/13/20
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8/14/20
Author Interview
8/15/20
Review
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The Republic of Jack: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Author Interview

THE REPUBLIC OF JACK
by

Jeffrey Kerr

Political Satire / Texas Humor / Texas Fiction

Publisher: Independently published
Date of Publication: April 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 253

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

 

Jack Cowherd will do anything to win the Texas governorship, even flirt with twenty-first-century secessionists in the Texas Patriot Party. Victory is achieved, but only at the cost of Texas being tossed out of the United States. The Republic of Texas lives again! And Jack is president. 
Friend and political advisor Tasha Longoria has long warned Jack of the dangers of his demagoguery. Now when he tries to halt the madness, the worst comes to pass: he is impeached, arrested, and charged with treason, the penalty for which is death.
 
Jack has but one chance to save his beloved Texas, not to mention his life. But success depends upon help from the one person least likely to give it . . . Tasha.


PRAISE for The Republic of Jack:

“Jeff Kerr’s Republic of Jack is a ribald, raucous farce of Texas politics that often exposes the self-serving cynicism boiling beneath the surface of public debate.”

—Texas political reporter R.G. Ratcliffe 


“Jeffrey Kerr’s ideal Texas politician—a man truly for these bitter times—bites off more than any enabler could ever chew in this romp of a new novel, The Republic of Jack! It’s time for readers to discover this writer’s range, intelligence, humor, and, ultimately, compassion. Or maybe you should just go and see his movie or read his catalog of nonfiction titles! In any case, it’s Jeff Kerr’s time.”

David Marion Wilkinson, author of Not Between Brothers and co-author of One Ranger
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AuthorInterview

Interview with Jeffrey Kerr

How has Texas—or being a Texan—influenced your writing?

My nonfiction books are about Texas because, living in Austin, I have ready access to Texas historical archives. My two novels are set in Texas and about Texans because, having lived here most of my life, I know and love the state and its people as well as anyone.

Where did your love of books and reading come from?

My parents. Dad never went anywhere without a book, while one of Mom’s favorite sayings is, “If you can read, you’ll never be bored.”

How long have you been writing?

I published my first book in 2004 and have been writing ever since.

What kinds of writing do you do?

My published works include nonfiction, historical fiction, and a satirical novel. At one time I kept a blog on my website, to which I posted regular history columns. I’ve also co-written the screenplay for a feature film and the narration for a documentary.

 Why did you decide to self-publish?

I had an agent represent this book to numerous publishers. Several expressed admiration for the work but ultimately passed. I finally self-published because I’m as proud of this novel as anything I’ve written and believe there is a readership out there for it.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

As I wrote I imagined certain famous actors playing my characters. I found it quite entertaining to “hear” these actors running through the dialog I was writing.

What do you like to read in your free time?

I roam all over the literary landscape when choosing what to read, but I am particularly partial to historical fiction, crime novels, suspense novels, and well-written histories.

Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book?

Jack Cowherd – Chris Pratt

Nadine Cowherd – Anna Kendrick

Tasha Longoria – Tina Fey

Fred Halsey – As I wrote I imagined the late Rip Torn as Fred, but Jack Black would also be great.

Charlie Clutterbuck – Will Ferrell

How important are names to you in your books? How do you choose names?

Names are extremely important. They must be distinctive but feasible. For The Republic of Jack I also wanted them to convey a sense of Texas.

 

 

Jeffrey Kerr is the author of three nonfiction books on Texas history, a historical novel, and, most recently, The Republic of Jack, a satirical novel that imagines Texas as an independent country in the twenty-first century. His history of Austin’s founding, Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, was named one of sixty essential books about Texas by Michael Barnes of the Austin American-Statesman. Kerr also co-wrote and co-produced the documentary film, The Last of the Moonlight Towers, and a feature film, the psychological thriller Writer’s Block. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two dogs.

 

 

Website ║ Facebook  ║ Twitter  Instagram

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July 7-17, 2020
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY. Or, visit the blogs directly:
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Notable Quotable
7-Jul
Notable Quotable
8-Jul
Excerpt
8-Jul
Review
9-Jul
Review
10-Jul
Character Interview
10-Jul
Review
11-Jul
Scrapbook page
12-Jul
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13-Jul
Review
14-Jul
Guest Post
14-Jul
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15-Jul
Playlist
16-Jul
Review
16-Jul
Review
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First Herd to Abilene: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Review & Giveaway

FIRST HERD TO ABILENE

An H. H. Lomax Western, #5
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Historical Fiction / Western / Humor
Publisher: Wolfpack Publishing
Date of Publication: February 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 449

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

HISTORICALLY SOUND AND HILARIOUSLY FUNNY! H.H. Lomax meets Wild Bill Hickok in Springfield, Missouri, and is responsible for Hickok’s legendary gunfight with Davis Tutt. Fearing Hickok will hold a grudge, Lomax escapes Springfield and agrees to promote Joseph G. McCoy’s dream of building Abilene, Kansas, into a cattle town, ultimately leading the first herd to Abilene from Texas.

Along the way, he encounters Indians, rabid skunks, flash floods, a stampede, and the animosities of some fellow cowboys trying to steal profits from the drive. Lomax is saved by the timely arrival of now U.S. Marshal Hickok, but Lomax uses counterfeit wanted posters to convince Hickok his assailants are wanted felons with rewards on their heads.

Lomax and Wild Bill go their separate ways until they run into each other a decade later in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, where Hickok vows to kill Lomax for getting him fired.

First Herd to Abilene is an entertaining mix of historical and hysterical fiction.

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Review

Four Stars

First Herd to Abilene is the fifth book in this series featuring the hilarious exploits of H.H. (Henry Harrison) Lomax, one of the most colorful characters to ever grace the pages of a western novel. If you’ve never read any of the previous entries into the outrageous circumstances and succession of adventures that puts H.H. at the confluence of every major event to ever be recorded about the Old West, don’t worry. Author Preston Lewis revisits those earlier escapades in Chapter One, while at the same time laying the groundwork for what is yet to come.

Lewis contends that he came across Lomax’s memoirs while conducting research at Texas Tech University, and though he “can’t vouch for their veracity,” these tales of encounters with the likes of Billy the Kid, Jessie James, Doc Holiday and Wyatt Earp, Buffalo Bill Cody, and George Armstrong Custer (to name just a few) are told with such insightful historical detail as well as wit and humor that readers will find themselves totally engaged. “While some may question his credentials as a credible chronicler of the occurrences Lomax claims to have witnessed, no one can doubt his abilities as a humorous story-teller of the first rank.”

First Herd to Abilene takes Henry Harrison Lomax from the end of the Civil War to three years past the turn of the century and, as in the earlier volumes, allows Lomax to weave another yarn about his encounters with some of the most memorable characters in the history of the Old West, folks such as James Butler ‘Wild Bill’ Hickok, Calamity Jane, Jessie Chisolm and Joseph G. McCoy.”

It begins with Lomax grousing about his disdain for all Texans, “a breed whose stupidity, greed, and depravity was exceeded only by that of politicians and lawyers.” His bitterness is really the result of a later tragedy, but at the outset of the book he begrudges Texans for making a fortune in the cattle industry while he “received nary a cent for all the hard work I put in and all risks I took to chart the course to Kansas.” Additionally,  Lomax feels slighted by Joseph G. McCoy, the entrepreneur who had the vision of transporting cattle by rail to Easterners starving for beef, but fails to give Lomax recognition and historical credit for being the first to blaze a trail from Texas to the stockyards and railheads in Abilene. That credit went to Jessie Chisolm, “an old coot who never traversed the route from Kansas to South Texas and back.”

It’s this bitterness that sets the tone for probably the most serious storyline of all the books in the series, with much of its 449 pages describing what it was like to be a part of the great cattle drives that defined this era in history. The arduous challenge of herding longhorn cattle over 700 miles from Texas to Kansas required months of backbreaking monotonous work that pitted cattlemen against the elements, disease, wild animals, hostile terrain, Indian attacks, and rustlers. It meant months of breathing in trail dust as well as the foul odors of the livestock, going without much sleep, eating the same food day-in day-out, no gambling or drinking, and very little human contact except between fellow trail riders… all of which grated on nerves and frequently resulted in the deaths of both man and beast. Preston Lewis certainly intersperses Lomax’s typical humor into this portrayal of a cowhand’s life, but he does so in a manner that doesn’t negate or gloss over the difficulties faced along the way.

Besides Lomax and the iconic historical figures mentioned above, Lewis creates a cast of characters that brings these hardships to life. Madlyn Dillon, an artist who has been spoiled and pampered her entire life, but the first Texan, male or female, to take an interest in Lomax and Joseph G. McCoy’s vision. Colonel Saul Dillon, her father. The Texas cattleman puts his trust in Lomax to get his cattle to Kansas and save his ranch. Ruth, orphaned by the Comanche but taken in and employed by Colonel Dillon. She falls in love with Lomax in an ill-fated relationship. Sainty Spencer, the ranch foreman who is sweet on Madlyn, and as trail boss is trusted to bring back the cash from the sale of the cattle in Abilene. Charlie Bitters, the cook, second in importance only to the trail boss, but whose cooking for the Army of Tennessee during the Civil War is said to have led to its defeat. Jose Munoz and Pedro Ramirez, Mexican hands that will tend to the remuda during the trail drive. Martin Michaels, a sketch artist on the side and the first cowhand hired, and Tom Errun, an Englishman with no experience pared up with Michaels to lead the herd. Silas Banty, a former slave, who looks to the future with optimism and learns to read from Lomax. Toad Beeline, little understood by his fellow trailhands because he tends to mumble when he speaks. He and Silas are assigned to ride flank. Trent Parsons, a former Confederate soldier wounded at Shiloh who spends his spare time with the Good Book, and Jurdon Mark, an affable sort who excels at the game of marbles, will ride swing. Lastly, Harry Dire, a skilled roper but a malcontent, Chuck Muscher, a Yankee troublemaker, and Bartholomew Henry O’Henry, another former slave angry about his past with a mean streak in him, will all be assigned to ride drag which only adds to their alienation and seditious attitudes. Their actions bode ill for the success of the cattle drive.

Bookending this description of the cattle drive and the fate of these characters is the story of Wild Bill Hickock and Calamity Jane told as only H.H. Lomax can, again putting himself right smack dab in the middle of the action over a span of years that begins in Springfield, Missouri and ends on that fateful day in Deadwood, Dakota Territory. But what does a “Rattle Jar,” head lice, an illicit game of poker at the library,  a stolen gold Waltham watch, cherry pie, an impromptu lynching, counterfeit wanted posters, and the “romance” between Wild Bill and Miss Martha Jane Canary and their final resting place  have to do with that narrative? For those insights, you really do need to read the book. In fact, once you do, I highly recommend that you go back and read the entire series. You won’t be disappointed!

Finally, to give a complete review of First Herd to Abilene, I need to mention errors in editing that I had not encountered in Lewis’ previous books. I seldom comment on SPAGs, but readers will undoubtedly come across them in the course of reading the novel. Preston Lewis is a great storyteller and a deserving winner of the Spur Award for western literature, but this book would have benefitted from a final edit before publication.

That said, as someone who once wrote that the “western genre no longer holds the public’s attention as it once did in cinema and published media,” I can definitely say that Preston Lewis’ books are the exception, helping keep western literature alive, vibrant, relevant and entertaining.

I received a free copy of First Herd to Abilene in exchange for my honest review.

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series, The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

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4/28/20
Excerpt
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4/29/20
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4/30/20
Author Interview
5/1/20
Review
5/2/20
Scrapbook Page
5/3/20
Excerpt
5/4/20
Review
5/5/20
Author Interview
5/6/20
Review
5/7/20
Review
5/7/20
BONUS Post

 

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For Spacious Skies: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Guest Post

FOR SPACIOUS SKIES
KATHERINE LEE BATES AND THE INSPIRATION FOR “AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL”
by
Nancy Churnin
illustrated by Olga Baumert

Picture Book Biography / Women’s Suffrage / Woman Poet
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

As a little girl growing up during the Civil War, Katharine Lee Bates grew up to become a poet, professor, and social activist. She not only wrote “America the Beautiful” but gave this anthem to America as a gift. A member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and a suffragist who stood up for a woman’s right to vote and lived to cast her ballot in presidential elections, Katharine believed in the power of words to make a difference. In “America the Beautiful,” her vision of the nation as a great family, united from sea to shining sea, continues to uplift and inspire us all.




PRAISE for For Spacious Skies: 
“Churnin tells that story in a spare and lively text beautifully complemented by double-page spreads highlighting Baumert’s gorgeous panoramic illustrations . . . A handsome volume befitting its subject.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
“The story ends on a high note in 1920, with Bates casting her ballot after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted voting rights to women . . . The richly colored, nicely composed artwork will help children visualize the period setting while enjoying the portrayals of Bates and beautiful landscapes. A picture-book biography of a notable American.”—Booklist
 
“Nancy Churnin has written a delightful book that helps children understand the many dimensions of my great-aunt Katharine Lee Bates. This book does an excellent job conveying her ardent passion for equal rights and for her country. She was a poet, a professor, and a world traveler, but she was first and foremost a citizen who loved America, in all its beauty and diversity.”—Katharine Lee Holland

 

 

Guest Post by Nancy Churnin

There’s so much confusion and conflict about what patriotism is. One reason I wanted to write about Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote one of our most patriotic songs, “America the Beautiful,” is that she goes to the heart of what patriotism truly is. Her scrupulously sculpted words are not just about how beautiful America is, but how beautiful America can be if we crown our good “with brotherhood / From sea to shining sea.” To me, that is true patriotism—not just loving your country, but helping your country live up to her ideals of equality and kindness. Katharine was a little girl during the Civil War, when Americans hated and hurt each other during conflict and for years afterward.

A minister’s daughter and fierce advocate for help and support for the poor as well as equal rights for women, she gave the song to America for free, as a gift, hoping to inspire fellow Americans to see themselves as part of one inclusive family. Most people don’t know the name Katharine Lee Bates, and I wanted kids to know the name of this extraordinary woman who refused to accept the limitations that women were given in her time and went on to get an education, become a poet and professor, live an independent life in a world of women, and leave the world a better place.

I am also thrilled to pay tribute to her this year, the 100th anniversary of women getting the right to vote. People have many ways of standing up for equal rights, and those different ways deserve to be acknowledged and honored. Katharine Lee Bates spoke up, but she also relied, more than anything, on the power of her pen.

Nancy Churnin is the award-winning author of eight picture book biographies with a ninth due in 2021. 
 
Beautiful Shades of Brown, The Art of Laura Wheeler Waring is A Mighty Girl pick that will be featured at the 2020 Ruby Bridges Reading Festival at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee in May. The William Hoy Story, a Texas 2X2 pick, has been on multiple state reading lists. Manjhi Moves a Mountain is the winner of the 2018 South Asia Book Award and a Junior Library Guild selection. Martin & Anne, the Kindred Spirits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Anne Frank is on the 2020 Notable Book for a Global Society list from the International Literacy Association. Irving Berlin, the Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing is a 2019 Sydney Taylor and National Council for the Social Studies Notable. 
 
Nancy graduated cum laude from Harvard, has a master’s from Columbia, and lives in Plano, Texas, with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, their dog named Dog, and two cantankerous cats. 

Website ║  Blog ║ Facebook  ║ Twitter ║ Instagram

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

4/16/20
Notable Quotable
4/16/20
Review
4/17/20
Book Trailer
4/17/20
Review
4/18/20
Sneak Peek
4/19/20
Author Interview
4/20/20
Review
4/21/20
Playlist
4/21/20
Review
4/22/20
Author Interview
4/23/20
Guest Post
4/23/20
Review
4/24/20
Deleted Scene
4/25/20
Review
4/25/20
Review
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Rio Ruidoso: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

RIO RUIDOSO
Three Rivers Trilogy, 1
by
PRESTON LEWIS
Genre: Historical Western
Publisher: Five Star Publishing
Date of Publication: February 19, 2020
Number of Pages: 299

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

 

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Rio Ruidoso offers a gripping blend of history and story as two-time Spur Award-winner Preston Lewis explores the violent years before the famed Lincoln County War in New Mexico Territory. Seamlessly weaving fact with fiction, the author details the county’s corruption, racism, and violence through the eyes of protagonist Wes Bracken, newly arrived in the region to start a horse ranch with his alcoholic brother.

 

Bracken’s dreams for the Mirror B Ranch are threatened by his brother’s drunkenness, the corruption of economic kingpin Lawrence G. Murphy, and the murderous rampages of the racist Horrell Brothers. To bring tranquility to Lincoln County, Bracken must defeat those threats and stand his ground against the ever-changing alliances that complicate life and prosperity in multi-racial Lincoln County.

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Excerpt

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE OF

RIO RUIDOSO

BY PRESTON LEWIS

As he neared the bend in the stream, a woman’s screams and sobs grew discernible and louder. Then Wes heard the mocking laugh of amused men. Rounding the bend, Wes saw a small adobe dwelling with a small cultivated field between it and the Ruidoso. And in front of the house, he spied a circle of four men around a Hispanic woman. A fifth man sat horseback, holding the others’ mounts. All five were hurrahing the woman and someone else within their circle.

Wes held the stallion back while he studied the five men, all so intent on their mischief that not one had noticed their visitor less than a hundred yards away. Wes knew neither the dispute nor its cause, but he could see the odds were less than fair. He levered a cartridge into the Winchester, then shook the reins. The sorrel stepped forward, the gap between Wes and the men narrowing to eighty yards, sixty yards, then forty yards. Still the men remained oblivious to all but the prey within their small circle.

Wes watched a frail man stand up among them, only to be shoved back to the ground by a bigger assailant. The woman screamed and tried to help the victim, but another attacker grabbed her arm and jerked her away. She fell to the ground, then clambered toward the frail man. Everyone laughed, except Wes! He had seen enough.

“Get up, greaser, so I can plant you in the ground again,” taunted one attacker.

At twenty yards, Wes eased back on the sorrel’s reins. Swinging the barrel of his carbine toward the assailants, he shouted, “Afternoon.”

Five men flinched at the greeting, then stiffened. They slowly turned around, facing Wes, their hands frozen near the revolvers at their sides.

“What seems to be the trouble?” Wes called out.

The woman burst through the circle of men and rushed toward Wes. “Gracias, señor, muy gracias!

Her cry and the flash of her skirt spooked Charlie. The sorrel nervously backtracked a half-dozen steps. One man reached toward his pistol, his hand wrapping around the gun butt.

The Hispanic woman stopped dead still.

Wes jerked the carbine to his shoulder and fired over the foolhardy man. The fellow’s fingers widened and his arm went limp, releasing the pistol that slid back into its holster. His companions raised their hands away from their own sidearms.

The young woman’s hand flew to her throat. “Please, señor, stop them from hurting us.”

Wes nodded. “What’s the trouble?”

One troublemaker stepped ahead of the others. He had a stiff neck, his whole body turning with his head. “No trouble. Until you showed up, fellow!”

“The young lady wouldn’t agree, now would she?”

“She’s Mexican. What’s she know?”

“Enough to expect decent treatment from folks.”

Stiff neck turned his whole body toward the others. “He damn sure ain’t from Texas, now is he?” As they laughed, stiff neck twisted back to face Wes. “Hell, fellow, you remember the Alamo? This greaser’s kin likely killed good white folks there. We’re just paying them back.”

Wes shrugged. “That was near forty years ago, and this isn’t Texas. You best forget the Alamo, ride on and leave these folks alone.”

Raising his fist, stiff neck advanced a step. “Fellow, I don’t know who you are, but you got no business interfering in what my bunch does. The name’s Horrell, I’m Mart, and these are my brothers Tom, Merritt, Ben, and Sam. We’ll ride out, but you remember the Horrell name if you’re planning on staying in Lincoln County because we’ll meet again when we ain’t in such a good mood.” 

Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of thirty novels. In addition to his two Western Writers of America Spurs, he received the 2018 Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Western Humor for Bluster’s Last Stand, the fourth volume in his comic western series The Memoirs of H. H. Lomax. Two other books in that series were Spur finalists. His comic western The Fleecing of Fort Griffin received the Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association for best creative work on the region.

 


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1ST PRIZE: Signed Copies of Rio Ruidoso & Bluster’s Last Stand
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FEBRUARY 18-28, 2020
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