Blog Tour: Out of the Embers

OUT OF THE EMBERS
MESQUITE SPRINGS, BOOK ONE
by
Amanda Cabot
Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

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Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents’ murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don’t include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.



PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS:

Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I’m hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!” 

Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series
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Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

What lengths would you go to protect someone you loved? Evelyn Radcliffe’s life was forever changed ten years prior after her parents’ were murdered in their restaurant. She has spent the last ten years in an orphanage that she has now called home. Although the sheriff said her parent’s murderer was captured and hung, she still feels as though she is being watched. Her suspicions have become more evident after she and Polly narrowly miss being killed in a fire that took the lives of those in the orphanage. Evelyn must step up as guardian for Polly and work to protect them from the person who appears to want them both dead. After the orphanage burns down Evelyn decides to take Polly and leave the town she has called home for far too long. After a harsh storm, Eveyln and Polly take shelter in the home of Wyatt Clark in the town of Mesquite. Soon she will realize there is more to the new town that a kind stranger. Will they both survive? Will Evelyn let go of the guilt that she carries and move forward with her new life?

In this first installment of a new Christian Historical Fiction series, Cabot dives into the realm of historical fiction. The author does a phenomenal job with the telling of. the story of Evelyn and Polly. The storyline flows seamlessly with twists and turns on every corner. I thoroughly enjoyed the emotional connection the author enabled with her writing style. I was able to fully connect with each character and truly feel transported into this time period. Each supporting character played a major role in the overall plot and the author even provided a teaser at the end of the book. I enjoyed how Eveyln’s character is developed as a strong female protagonist with a compassionate heart to serve others. I also enjoyed the Christian based aspect of this novel and the influence of the scriptures. There is one part of the story where Wyatt looks at Evelyn and tells her that the truth will set her free. Evelyn has been carrying the weight of her parent’s death and the weight of the burning down of the orphanage on her shoulders far too long. At that moment she feels as though God has saved her for a reason. Which we will later find out towards the end of the story and we come to find out more about Polly and why she won’t share her last name.

I felt a strong connection to this novel. Often times we don’t fully understand how God truly intervenes in our lives to save us because our saving is tied to saving someone else. I would implore the readers to really consider this as they dive into this book. Think a moment where you know that God has saved you to only use you to provide a blessing to someone else or use you to save someone else.

Overall this is truly a remarkably written Christian historical fiction novel that allowed the reader to be transported into the story. The author spent time developing every supporting character, the description of the setting, and the plot. This all combined created a well-rounded novel with a heartbreaking beginning and a happy ending. I highly recommend this novel for anyone looking for a Christian based novel as such that focuses on fear, grief, strength, and love.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming.
 

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Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
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Blog Tour: Coded for Murder

CODED FOR MURDER

by
DIANNE SMITHWICK-BRADEN
Genre: Murder Mystery / Amateur Sleuth
Publisher: DSB Mysteries
Publication Date: September 26, 2019
Number of Pages: 358 pages

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Jade O’Neal is a senior at West Texas A & M University in Canyon, Texas. She’s on track to graduate with highest honors and a degree in history until she is accused of murder. She juggles her busy school and work schedule around taking care of an overgrown Rottweiler and being questioned by police until she finds a series of clues hidden in puzzle form. Time is against her as she follows the clues to find the true identity of the murderer while avoiding arrest and her own murder.
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Review

 

Rating :★★★★.5

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

Have you ever lost a loved one? Have you tried to move on with your life but unable to do so because of the memory? Jade and her Uncle Erik have restarted their lives after the loss of her Father. Erik O’Neal tries to do everything he can to work to solve the mystery of the murder of his brother all while trying to protect his niece. The more time he spends trying to look for facts and clues surrounding his brother’s death, the more at risk he puts his family. Will Erik solve the mystery surrounding his brother’s death or will he die trying.

This murder mystery is written in a diary-style format with the chapters including the dates. It is a unique approach to incorporating the time aspect into the storytelling. I’ve never seen a novel written in this style and third person. While reading I was able to fully be aware of the concept of time and the connection it has with the development of the story. I gave this book four and a half stars mostly because I felt it began a little slow. Although I enjoyed the beginning with the glimpse inside Jade and her Uncle Erik’s life I felt it would have been more suited later in the novel. On the contrary, the beginning did provide a great look at how some families move on after the death of a loved one and focus on the future. The author does a great job working to ensure the reader fully understand the full dynamic of each character and its role in the storyline. The plot twist will have you on the edge of your seat as the novel works to pick up speed. I laughed out loud at Teddy one of my absolute favorite characters in this novel. Throughout this novel, the reader gets to hear every thought, engage in every interaction, and feel every emotion the characters feel. This allowed for a more in-depth reading experience where I felt transported into the novel.

My question is where can I get me a Teddy? It is such a wonderful reading experience when the author is able to write a mystery novel that isn’t littered with foul language. I thoroughly enjoyed the modesty of the character Jade and the morality of Uncle Erik. Also, loved the Christian influence.

If you are interested in a well written, humorous, and engaging adult murder mystery novel then this book is for you!! I recommend this book to young adult and adult readers mostly due to the life lessons spread throughout this tale. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this edge-of-your-seat murder mystery tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Dianne Smithwick-Braden is a native Texan raised on the family farm near Vernon, Texas. She seasons her mysteries with a little romance, a dash of adventure, and a touch of humor. She currently resides in Amarillo, Texas with her husband, Richard. 

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Blog Tour: Finding Esme

FINDING ESME
by
SUZANNE CROWLEY
  
Genre: Middle Grade (3-7) / Magical Realism / Family & Loss
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Date of Publication: August 14, 2018
Number of Pages: 288

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After her grandfather died from a heart attack while driving his tractor on Solace Hill, twelve-year-old Esme’s been inextricably drawn to that spot, although her grandmother warns her to stay away. But when she follows her little brother, Bo, and her dog, Old Jack, up the hill while chasing fireflies, she makes an incredible discovery—dinosaur bones peeking out from underneath the abandoned tractor.

The bones must be a message from her grandfather, a connection from beyond the grave. But when word gets out that the farm is hiding something valuable, reporters, researchers, and neighbors arrive in droves. Esme struggles to understand who has her best interests at heart, especially as the memory of her grandfather begins to slip away.

Full of friendship and adventure, and featuring a palpable Texas setting, Finding Esme is a moving and heartfelt story about family, friendship, and learning to deal with loss.

PRAISE & HONORS FOR FINDING ESME:

“Esme is a brave, appealing heroine with the odds stacked against her… Bad blood and layered family secrets drive this story to its ultimately optimistic and satisfying conclusion.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (starred review)

“Esme McCauley is a lonely but spirited 12-year-old who feels nothing ever happens to her the way it’s supposed to…A poignant tale for readers who enjoy character-driven realism.” — School Library Journal

“Readers muddling through preteen changes or unstable family lives will identify with Esme’s struggles, but the thrill of discovery will appeal to most.” — Booklist

Texas Library Association 2019 Spirit of Texas (SPOT) reading program selection

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

Have you ever experienced a loss? Have you ever felt the need to reconnect with someone you have lost? Finding Esme takes the reader on the journey through the mind of a young child and her family as they continue to deal with the aftermath of the loss of her grandfather. As the story continues to unfold the author allows the reader to gain a better understanding of Esme’s relationship with her grandfather. We are then able to dive into why she is struggling so hard with his loss. Esme wants so desperately to be a contributing member of her family, but she’s only twelve. There aren’t many things a twelve-year-old can do to make money. As she struggles to come to terms with how desperate family is to save their farm and her inability to help, she discovers something far more amazing. Her connection with her late grandfather runs deeper than she could have ever imagined. Esme and her grandfather share a similar gift. Some might call the gift magic!

This book is filled with numerous components that make it hard to focus on just one. There is a sense of adventure, self discovery, family, friendships, loss, mystery, and acceptance. The author does a phenomenal job of telling this story in a way that provides the reader with a chance to understanding the emotions of each character. This story transports you into the life and home of Eme and her family. Esme is far more mature for her age than other twelve-year-olds. I adore the uniqueness associated with each character and the detail provided. The development of the main and supporting characters allowed for a better baseline of the story and enhanced the plot. The realism and emotional influence in the authors writing style had me in tears as I got to know Esme, her best friend, and her mother. Esme’s life is far from perfect. She struggles with coming to terms with the loss of her grandfather, supporting her grandmother, and being there for her younger brother. However, we watch as Esme learns acceptance and embraces her gift that will lead to happiness and connection.

This coming of age story transports you into the life of Esme. A young girl whose knack for discovery leads her to the greatest treasure of all that could potentially save her family’s farm. This book is filled with grief, love, friendships, and childlike discovery. The ending of this book will have you shedding tears of joy as we watch the main character is able to use her “gift” in a unique way. This book reminded me a lot of my life growing up. I had an absent father, a mother who was gone, and I was raised by my grandmother. I remember as a young child having the similar thoughts as Esme and thanking God the same way she does in the novel.

If you are interested in a well written, relatable, thought provoking, explorative, coming of age elementary/middle-grade novel, then this book is for you! I recommend this book to all young readers looking to engage in a story that will encourage their sense of discovery and adventure. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this remarkable tale.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!

Suzanne Crowley is the author of two acclaimed novels for young readers, The Very Ordered Existence of Merilee Marvelous and The Stolen One. The author, who is also a miniaturist and dollhouse collector whose work has graced the covers of magazines worldwide, was born in a small town in Texas and lives in Southlake, Texas. When not hugging her dog or imbibing in chocolate, she can often be found taking a nap.
 

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Blog Tour: Road to Hope

ROAD TO HOPE
How One Woman Went from
Doubting Her Path to
Embracing Her Inner Journey
by
Dena Jansen
Genre: Memoir / Inspirational / Christian Life
Publication Date: November 15, 2019
Number of Pages: 240 pagesScroll down for a giveaway!

Have you ever felt stuck? If so, you are not alone. As a 36-year-old wife, mother, and corporate executive, Dena Jansen’s life looked successful by society’s standards. But she found herself at an intersection—stranded at a real-life crossroads in her life.


Over a matter of years, darkness and doubt slowly crept in, leaving her unsure and unsettled in her life, marriage, and career. And after stalling out multiple times and nearly wrecking everything, she finally grabbed hold of a life-saving truth:
She had a choice to make. She could stay stuck, or she could try and find new roads that would lead to the peace and joy she was looking for.

With a glimmer of hope, Dena embraced the gifts of curiosity and grace and began a journey of self-discovery. And she chose to believe in a new truth:

She was meant for more and could no longer settle.

In Road to Hope, Dena invites you to join her as she wanders the roads she traveled and take anything you need from her story to help you in yours. She shares how she grew from a woman who doubted her path to one who is confident and ready for the next adventure. And she wants you to experience a similar shift. And more than that, she believes you can.


Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

 

Have you ever felt stuck? Have you ever reached a point in your life where you wondered how you got there? Author Dena Jansen reaches that point in her life where she realizes that maybe the life she is currently living isn’t meant for her. She concludes that she has achieved society’s expectation of what her life should look like from the outside in. However, she reaches a point where she is no longer happy and starts to reexamine her current situation looking for answers as to why. She lives a “perfect” life compared to others but she is still left unfulfilled. Dena must face the hard truth and make a decision on her happiness and for once put her needs above her family’s.

This Christian inspired memoir takes a unique approach to present the reader with the events of Dena Jansen’s life. Dena does an exceptional job of capturing the reader from the beginning with a relational opening paragraph that encourages critical thinking. She dives into her self realization journey allowing the reader to engage with her full thought process and emotions. I enjoyed the full disclosure from the author which allowed for a better connection between the reader and the story dialogue. She breaks down every interaction with her family, her therapist, and her friends. Dena essentially reaches a point in her life where she has achieved success but doesn’t feel like she has. She is stuck. Her accomplishments do not link up with her feelings, leaving her feeling empty and exposed. She must take herself on a journey to find herself. During her journey of self-discovery, she encounters people along the way that challenge her sense of identity and her purpose. She later realizes that she has a choice in the life she wants to live. We essentially must come to the end of ourselves before we can hear God speaking to us. The remainder of the novel is her embracing her spiritual connection with God and Christ. I felt her vulnerability through the page while reading her internal dialogue with God and her growing in her faith and allowing his presence to fill her.

The question remains, what do you do when you are stuck? What do you do when you reach a crossroads in your life? I recommend starting with this novel to gain a first-hand look at how Dena handled the same questions. It is refreshing to see an author write a memoir that allows for full disclosure into her thought process, essentially allowing the reader to be in the passenger seat of her journey. I highly recommend this memoir for anyone interested in a well-written self-discovery book that will encourage you to shift the way you look at your life now. This memoir will have you re-evaluating your purpose.

Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on a copy of this book!


Dena Jansen’s calling to lift others up is profoundly personal. She understands the fears and doubts that hold people back because she has them too. Her own path to fulfillment is a real-life journey that’s still very much in progress. As a CPA and retired partner from Austin-based CPA firm Maxwell Locke & Ritter, she launched Dena Speaks to inspire potential seeking individuals and businesses. Dena shares life and love with her husband, JP, and their two children, Trace, and Elizabeth in Buda, Texas. She loves romantic comedy movies, listening to podcasts, and spending time with her family and friends.

 
 
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Blog Tour: All In

ALL IN
by
L.K. Simonds
Genre: Gritty Realistic / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Morgan James Publishing
Date of Publication: August 27, 2019
Number of Pages: 282

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 

A woman’s empty pursuit of happiness leads to a crisis before finding redemption in the Lord in this challenging and gritty Christian novel.

Twenty-nine-year-old novelist and blackjack dealer Cami Taylor seems to have it all—but just underneath her confident exterior and newfound celebrity is a young woman in trouble. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, wants to get married, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family—a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami would rather bolt like a deer.

Breaking things off with Joel, Cami launches herself on a new quest for happiness. But her pursuit of pleasure only takes her further from herself—and toward a harrowing new reality unlike anything she’s faced before. What follows for Cami is a fight to the death that can only be waged with God’s love.

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L.K. SIMONDS PRESENTS CAMI TAYLOR:


Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in this review are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This book is written about Cami Taylor, an adult female who seems to have everything she has ever wanted in life. She has a “perfect” life for herself in New York as a bestselling author. She was able to make a name for herself and move from Arizona to the big apple. The book begins with Cami at a crossroads with her current boyfriend Joel. Joel seems to think that Cami is too closed off emotionally, doesn’t have the same family goals as him, and she won’t commit. However, Cami is perfectly fine with the way she is but decides to take Joel up on his advice to see a counselor. Why would she go to a counselor? She lived a good life. She didn’t grow up in a household with turmoil or face adversity. Then a stranger calls her landline one day and her life takes a unique turn afterward. Who is this strange woman who says she is related to Cami? Why is she contacting Cami now? At this point in the novel, it seems that Cami is very content with keeping everyone at arm’s length and appearing she does not care about building lasting relationships. Her personality says she will live the way she wants regardless of how it affects others.  She begins to discover more about herself as she continues to go to her counseling sessions, visits her parents and gets to know the stranger that says they’re related. In the end, can Cami put the needs of others before her own?

This book is a fast and easy read. I completed this book in one sitting. The first two chapters captured my attention and kept it through to the end. You can tell the author took the time to research to develop the main character’s storyline fully. Cami’s interaction with her therapist seems both comic and realistic. I enjoyed how the author allowed the reader into the mind of the main character. The author hits a lot of key points in the novel during the unfolding of the plot. The plot thickens with Cami getting results from her latest physical that was requested by her therapist. She gets some test results that change the trajectory of her life leading her to contemplate the life she has lived thus far. The author uses Kate, the stranger who says they’re related, to show Cami what compassion looks like and guide her to God. This Christian based novel dives into the relief of finding God when you’re at your weakest. In the Bible it discusses that God does his best work when you are at your weakest. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says “9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” As Christian, I enjoyed the fact that the author allowed the character to fall apart and then find Christ. It was an exceptional part of the novel for me to see Cami transformed and essentially healed physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I like how the author did not dramatize the depiction of her coming to God and releasing full control. I am not going to tell you the results of her test results but reading it was like “Woah.” I’ve never read a novel that describes parts of my life and no one talks about that in novels often.

I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of this novel and the baseline it was crafted on. I did feel a few areas of the novel could have been developed more such as I wanted more from her story with Joel and more at the ending. I do hope there is a second book so we can see how Cami progressed after coming to God. If you’re looking for a Christian influenced novel that focuses on recovery, self-realization, self-forgiveness, and spiritual growth then this is your novel. I read this book in one sitting and could not put it down until I finished it. Click the link above to purchase this item or scroll towards the bottom of this review try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on this book!

 


L. K. Simonds is a Fort Worth local. She has worked as a waitress, KFC hostess, telephone marketer, assembly-line worker, nanny, hospital lab technician, and air traffic controller. She’s an instrument-rated pilot and an alumna of Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas. All In is her first novel.

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Blog Tour: Ain’t Nobody

AIN’T NOBODY
NOBODY
by
HEATHER HARPER ELLETT
Genre: Murder Mystery / Southern Noir / Dark Humor
Publisher: Polis Books
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 336
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Named a Best Debut of Fall/Winter 2019 by Library Journal, Ain’t Nobody Nobody is the story of a disgraced East Texas sheriff, his dead best friend’s surly teenage daughter, and a naive ranch hand who find unlikely redemption in a murdered hog hunter on a fence. 
 
Part Breaking Bad and part Faulkner, this tragi-comic mystery is perfect for readers who enjoy dark humor (think Fargo) and like their crime fiction with a literary flare. 
A Best Mystery of 2019 by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This book is a debut novel for Heather Ellett. It dives into a murder mystery that takes place in the backwoods of an East Texas town. A town where everybody knows everybody and everything that happens. Randy Mayhill carries grief, shame, and regret everywhere he goes. He spends time trying to redeem the mistakes of his past and his involvement in his friend’s death. All Randy Mayhill ever wanted to do was become a sheriff but now even after his friend’s death and the loss of his job, he’s still carrying the guilt and shame. In an effort to relieve some of the guilt, he makes it his mission to do whatever he can to be available to Birdie and Onie, the daughter and mother of his late friend. But in a town overcome by feral hogs where the only murders that take place are the hogs when a dead body shows up on the fence of his late friend’s family house Randy steps into action. Birdies isn’t saying anything, Onie isn’t talking, and Bradley the helper looks frightened and isn’t saying a word. However, when Randy goes to dispose of the body, it’s gone. Randy must come out of his seclusion to solve a murder mystery and keep another scandal away from Van’s household as he continues to seek redemption for his friend’s death. Only one problem, Randy isn’t the Sherrif in town anymore and no one is giving him answers. The story continues to unfold with twists and turns and an ending that will leave you shocked, proud, and in tears. Who is the mystery man on the fence? What is Birdie’s involvement in his death? Where is Bradley? This story will take you on a wild East Texas backroad ride that will involve deception, redemption, grief, loss, and revenge. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and the way it is written. I have not encountered a book quite like it recently. It is known from the first page that the author spent time working to develop each character and the storyline. It is a challenge to write a story in a way that allows the reader to build an emotional connection with the characters but this author did just that. You feel the grief, guilt, loss, regret, pain, emanating from each page. Each main character and supporting character’s story intertwines in such an effortless way that every character feels just as vital as the next. For example, we get a hint of Bradley’s backstory in parts of this novel but it just enough to understand his connection to the plot. Also, I was completely shocked at the ending and was not expecting it. The author does a superb job closing out this story in such a way that it still leaves you wanting more. I laughed at the end because I could not have seen this story ending in any other way. 

The author does a phenomenal job telling this story in a way that is both humorous in some areas and tragic in others. The author uses a unique approach to telling the story where the narrator is both involved in the telling of the story but also a commentator, providing insights in every chapter. This allows the story to feel more realistic and engages the reader in the development of each character. She uses descriptive text to express the character’s emotions in a realistic manner that allows the story to feel real when reading. This book will have you laughing, crying, gasping, and shocked all in one sitting. If you’re looking for a unique Texas read that will have you enveloped from the beginning try to solve a small-town mystery, then this is your book. It will capture your attention from start to finish. I highly recommend this Texas-based murder mystery for any interested in a tragically humorous adult mystery that will have you captured from the beginning. Click the link below to purchase this item or try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on this book!

 


 


 

Born and raised in East Texas, Heather Harper Ellett is a graduate of SMU and a therapist in private practice. She lives in Dallas with her husband and son.

 
 

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Timestamp: Musing of an Introverted Black Boy

Genre: NonifictionifpkHs5QS9iUolGmCJPKJw

Shelf Location: Young Adult

Rating: ★★★★★

This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copy used in this review is a finished copy.

 


Synopsis

I’m a twenty-two-year-old Black introvert who overthinks everything, can’t get a date, yet somehow managed to graduate from Harvard.

My story is probably not like yours. I’m a Black boy from the Midwest. I’ve never been kissed. I’m desperately in love with two women: Aretha and Whitney. I struggle with a mild form of social anxiety. I sing to myself almost everywhere I go. I’m an ex-chitlins (with hot sauce and ketchup) lover. I’ve been called an Oreo. I’ve been stopped by the police while walking home. I’m the descendant of slaves, and a Harvard graduate.

Though our stories may not be the same, the universal themes explored in this poignant and personal literary collection—love, identity, hope, social justice, and coming of age—bond us together. Timestamp: Musings of an Introverted Black Boy is many things: It’s one Black boy’s journey through college and into adulthood. It’s a compilation of intimate musings, short and long. It’s an anthology of reflections linked to distinct moments in time. It’s a series of meditations on life, love, and the lack thereof. It’s not simply a “Black” book, or even a “millennial” one. It’s a human book.

I wrote it for everyone—and that includes you!


Final Thoughts

This book is unapologetically written about Marcus Granperson. It is a pure expression of his thoughts and wonderfully written. He dives into issues that many people of color face but don’t have a platform to discuss it on. This book is written in a diary-style format with dates and titles. The author allows the reader to be involved fully in his thought process, his challenges, and the identities people have placed on him. I related a lot to his testimony and I enjoyed the religious aspect of the novel. This book hit all of my high points for a memoir-style novel. It discussed social injustice, colorism in the black community, racism, and religion. I enjoyed the fact that the author was completely honest with the reader, exposing the challenges he faced and the ways he overcame them. One of my favorite quotes from this book is:

Life is too short to spend time entertaining people committed to misunderstanding us. There’s work to be done, and we must be free to do it—because the world needs us. Most importantly, we need us.

Marcus is an African American male who graduated from Harvard and now lives in New York. He has never experienced a romantic kind of love but embraces the love he has experience with the people he interacts with. He fully emphasizes the impact of the intimate encounters he has had with friends and family. He never truly feels alone, loves Jesus, and fully dissects every encounter. He delves into the now and states that “every moment is a last moment.” I highly recommend this novel for any person of color or anyone interested in a humorous and thought-provoking novel written by a person of color about themselves.


You can purchase your copy of this book on Amazon here

Happy Reading! Comment below any book recommendations or your thoughts on this book! You can reach by clicking the Contact link at the top of the page or email me at librarielbookreviews@gmail.com.

Blog Tour: Covey and JayJay Get Educated

COVEY AND JAYJAY
GET EDUCATED
by
Shelton L. Williams
Genre: Murder Mystery / Social Thriller / Amateur Sleuth
Publication Date: September 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 209 pages

 

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Amateur detectives, Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls, are drawn into a triple murder on the campus of Baker College in West Waverly in the Texas Hill Country. Both end up taking positions at the college: Covey as an adjunct instructor and JayJay as a visiting actor. 


Initially they believe that money is the motive for the murders, but over time they learn that the college is a cauldron of political and social intrigue. The college’s new president and his beautiful wife, various staff members, a prominent trustee, and parties not associated with the college have the motives, opportunities, and wacky agendas that might implicate them in the murders. It turns out that a white nationalist group may be using a college house for its nefarious activities, but are they more talk than action? 

The West Waverly police are little to no help in the investigation, and Covey himself has to depart the college to deal with his father’s death. JayJay takes over and makes a critical breakthrough. Upon Covey’s return, the couple must rely on deception, a bit of luck, and martial arts skills to solve the crimes and to try to prevent a high-profile assassination.


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Rating :★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are finalized copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

This book can be read as a standalone but is the second book in the Covey Jencks mystery series. Covey and JayJay are two friends who serve as amateur detectives in this West Texas mystery novel. As they work to solve the unexpected murder of three individuals at Baker College and clear the name of a friend, they uncover more than just the suspect.

As they work to uncover the mystery behind the murders they uncover a white nationalist movement at the same time. The author does a phenomenal job diving into the social issues and discovering major discriminatory acts that occurred in the area. You can tell the author spent time conducting research and digging deep to understand the make up of the area during the time this fiction novel was set in.

I enjoyed the dialogue between the main characters and the way the writing flowed. The author spent a great deal of time working on the layout, writing style, and character development. The character interaction felt real and personal. I also enjoyed the uniqueness associated with the chapter style. I have not seen a novel written with the chapters from a main perspective and from a character specific perspective. It allowed for the novel to be conveyed using two methods and gave insight into the mind of the main character. This book is filled with twists, turns , and interrogations. There were numerous occasions where I gasped out loud while reading and laughed at the interactions between the main characters and supporting characters. How far will you go to prove your friend’s innocence? Throughout the whole novel I thought I had a pretty good idea of why the murders occurred until closer towards the end and I noticed there was a bigger issue at hand than the murders.

I highly recommend this novel if you are looking for a thought-provoking adult mystery novel that focuses on social issues written from two perspectives; one from a person of color and one from a narrative perspective. Click the link above to purchase this item or try your luck at the giveaway. Either way, get your hands on this book!


Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
 
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BLOG TOUR: Why Stuff Matters

WHY STUFF MATTERS
by
JEN WALDO
Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Humor
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: June 4, 2019 (US)
Number of Pages: 212

 
When Jessica, a grieving widow, inherits an antique mall from her mother she also inherits the stallholders, an elderly, amoral, acquisitive, and paranoid collection. 
 
When one of the vendors, a wily ex-con named Roxy, shoots her ex-husband, she calls on Jessica to help bury the body and soon Jessica is embroiled in cover-ups, lies, and misdirection. Into this mix comes Lizzie, Jessica’s late husband’s twelve-year-old daughter by his first marriage, who’s been dumped on Jessica’s doorstep by the child’s self-absorbed mother and it soon becomes apparent that Lizzie is as obsessed with material possessions as Jessica’s elderly tenants. 
 
Why Stuff Matters is a compelling ode to possession, why people like things and the curious lengths they will go to keep them. Returning to her fictional Caprock, Waldo turns her wry wit on the lives of those afraid to let go.
 
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Inspiration behind Why Stuff Matters

Guest Post by Jen Waldo

My second novel, Why Stuff Matters, is about a young widow who, after inheriting an antique mall, must deal with the petty antics and rebellions of the shifty elderly vendors who rent booths in her building.

This novel had two inspirations—one is the setting, based on an antique mall just north of I-10 in Houston; and the other inspiration is the dealers, who charge ten times what their old stuff is worth.

The antique mall in Houston is one of my favorite browsing places, full of tarnished spittoons, bedpans, lacy shawls that have gone yellow, and a whole lot of other stuff that absolutely nobody needs. It smells of mildew and there’s a layer of dust over everything. The lighting is poor and the prevailing color is gray. Caprock Antiques, the mall in the book, so closely reflects this location in Houston that I’ve received emails from readers telling me that they recognized it from their own excursions into the cavernous building.

And the overpricing by the vendors was inspired by a time when I went with a group of church ladies to help at a resale charity shop. Our job was to hang the clothes and place the items attractively on the shelves. The task given to the pair of ancient wheelchair-bound women in the back was to put price tags on the items; and they were pricing them way too high. Eight dollars for a ten-year-old stretched-out pair of sweatpants. Ten dollars for cracked mirror in a wooden frame. One of them put a five-dollar tag on a molded plastic bowl that I’d seen for a dollar at the dollar store. So it occurred to me that these ancient women were identifying with the items. The stuff was old, worn out, and useless, and this is the way the women felt. People over-identifying with material items is the inescapable theme of the book.

While certain writers, most obviously Anne Tyler and Richard Russo, have influenced my method of juxtaposing comedy and tragedy, the peripheral characters in Why Stuff Matters are loosely inspired by the quirky citizens of Stars Hollow in “Gilmore Girls.” Their eccentricities and compassion; the foolishness of schemers and self-servers, and the surly impatience—all are found in Why Stuff Matters. In “GG,” the busybody shopkeeper, the humorless mechanic, the irritable owner of the diner, and the salacious dance teacher are the lighthearted chorus behind Lorelei and Rory’s operatic drama; and it’s to serve this purpose that I created the vendors.

In Why Stuff Matters the issue of stubbornly never letting go and over-pricing items might be exaggerated, but it perfectly reflects how some people value inanimate objects more than they value other humans. The characters filch items from the booths of the recently deceased. One of the vendors bought an entire exhibition of embalmed freakish peculiarities (hairy tumors, seven rats sharing the same tail, a pig with a leg growing out of its back) and paid a monthly fee to store them indefinitely. At one point, the vendors participate in a vicious war over a collection of antique typewriters.

This ode to materialism prods readers to give thought to why we want the things we want and what lengths we’re willing to go to in order to keep what we have.

Why Stuff Matters is a partner book to my first published novel, Old Buildings in North Texas. The reason for this designation is that they are clearly located in the same town, Caprock, and they share a similar writing style—first person, present tense. Both depict a young woman working her way through a painful emotional period, one dealing with addiction, the other with grief. If you like one, you’ll like the other.


Jen Waldo lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period and has now settled, along with her husband, in Marble Falls, Texas. She first started writing over twenty years ago when, while living in Cairo, she had difficulty locating reading material and realized she’d have to make her own fun. She has since earned an MFA and written a number of novels. Her work has been published in The European and was shortlisted in a competition by Traveler magazine. Old Buildings in North Texas and Why Stuff Matters have been published in the UK by Arcadia Books. Jen’s fiction is set in Northwest Texas and she’s grateful to her hometown of Amarillo for providing colorful characters and a background of relentless whistling wind. 

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The Other Half of Happy Blog Tour

THE OTHER HALF

OF HAPPY
by

Rebecca Balcárcel

Contemporary / Middle Grade / Multi-cultural Family
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Date of Publication: August 20, 2019
Number of Pages: 332

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Quijana is a girl in pieces. 
 
One-half Guatemalan, one-half American: When Quijana’s Guatemalan cousins move to town, her dad seems ashamed that she doesn’t know more about her family’s heritage. 
 
One-half crush, one-half buddy: When Quijana meets Zuri and Jayden, she knows she’s found true friends. But she can’t help the growing feelings she has for Jayden. 
 
One-half kid, one-half grown-up: Quijana spends her nights Skyping with her ailing grandma and trying to figure out what’s going on with her increasingly hard-to-reach brother. 
 
In the course of this immersive and beautifully written novel, Quijana must figure out which parts of herself are most important, and which pieces come together to make her whole. 
 
This lyrical debut from Rebecca Balcárcel is a heartfelt poetic portrayal of a girl growing up, fitting in, and learning what it means to belong.

PRAISE FOR THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY:

 
“Seriously, I have never felt so seen in a book.” —Sophia Jimenez of @LatinxinPub
 

“Balcárcel’s well-rounded characters, complex friendships, and nuanced family dynamics will resonate with many readers. This is a title that will remain relevant long past its publication date. A must-have for all library collections.” — School Library Journal starred review

“With poetic, flowing prose that sometimes feels more like a song and characters so convincing that they seem real, Balcárcel’s stunning debut depicts the struggles of being raised with two cultures and the challenges of not being “authentic” enough—in this case, “not Guatemalan enough” or “not American enough.” A lovely, moving, and realistic view of the struggles and insecurities—as well as the beauty—that comes from being bicultural.” — Booklist starred review

“One of the best and most compassionate depictions of autism I have ever read in fiction.” — Latinas Leyendo

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fullsizeoutput_211f

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of this book from Lone Star Literary Life partner in exchange for my honest review.  The comments in this review do not reflect the views of the author or the publisher. The copies used in those are unfinished copies sent to me in exchange for my honest review.  #partner #LSBBT

The engaging and awe-inspiring novel transports you into the world of Quijana, a half Guatemalan and half American tween. Quijana faces continual adversities as she works to discover her true identity.

The novel begins with Quijana preparing for her first day of seventh grade in a new school. She is obsessing over the mistakes of her past, trying to wrangle the constant chaos of her household, and spending time with her family. Her first day of seventh grade does not go as plan and she must learn the dynamics of her new school. Quijana must learn to face obstacles that are beyond her years while trying to find her identity and her place in her family. She is navigating her new environment, dissecting a potential crush, focusing on her younger brother, and continue to connect her Abuelita. As her home life takes a more challenging turn will she be able to handle it all?

The Other Half of Happy tackles the challenge of creating a diverse novel that allows the reader to understand the dynamics of the culture that influenced it. The moment I opened this book I was completely entranced in the story. I was able to feel a personal connection with the main character and the challenges she faced with her family. This novel felt more like a middle grade coming of age story that focused on a common challenge faced by biracial youth. It is evident the author drew from personal experiences to write this novel or did extensive research. The author took the time to insert Spanish dialogue and highlight a common frustration and disconnect in multicultural households. This novel is engaging, informative, and powerful. The characters evolved from chapter to chapter as the storyline developed. I even cried toward the ending after the plot started to unfold.

I truly commend the author for taking the time to shed light on common obstacles faced by multilingual and multicultural households in America. Quinjana is developed as a character that is both relatable and responsible. The author provides scenes that share commonalities with the adversities faced by youth today. The author provides a first-hand look at the development of the main character as we experience her frustrations, worry, and grief.

If you’re in the mood for a realistic fiction novel then you’re in luck! This book fits soo many key character development points and has such an elaborate storyline that it would be a great read for upper elementary and middle grades. I highly recommend this novel as it provides an opportunity for youth to read about challenges similar to their own. You won’t want to put this one down until you finish it!


 
 

Rebecca is a bi-cultural Latina who loves her autistic sons, her kitty, and serving the students of Tarrant County College as Associate Professor of English. She holds an MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars, where she was awarded the Jane Kenton Poetry Prize. THE OTHER HALF OF HAPPY is her debut novel.

 
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