Blog Tour: The Republic of Jack

THE REPUBLIC OF JACK
by

Jeffrey KerrPolitical Satire / Texas Humor / Texas Fiction

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

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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,

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
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Review

Rating :★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished 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

The story begins with Jack simply running for Governor of Texas but we see from the start that this election was only the beginning. As the story continues to unfold we notice unexpected twists, turn, and laugh out loud moments that leave you wanting more. Throughout this entire novel you see the true humor and turmoil behind the politics of being apart of an election. As Jack works to keep tabs on his personal life he must also accept the new responsibility’s of being an elected official. Can he survive or will he be impeached?

This humorous adult fiction novel takes you on a hilarious journey. You see Jack not only step up as Governor but then get immediately promoted to President, of Texas. Yes, you read that right. The President of the United States is so fed up with Texas that he has decided to precede with a secession of the state. With the new pressures associated with becoming President, Jack struggles with those in his inner circle. He is trying to decipher between which of his advisors is giving him the best advice. In the meantime his wife is having her own party as the new appointed First Lady. She is so consumed by the fame that she is essentially described as a surface, self absorbed  female. Nadine is simply looking for attention which becomes clear when the Vice President starts noticing her more and more. This part was a bit hard to read as it humorously implied that the women next to government officials were just arm candy. As we watch the marriage of Nadine and Jack stumble we see the true effects of the how often people change their mind in regards to politics. One minute the people of Texas love Jack and the next they fight to get him impeached. This hilarious anecdote focuses on how often people change their opinions.

The author did a great job not only with the humor but the overall plot. I enjoyed the twists and turns and the way the story was told from the various character perspectives. My only downfall of this novel was I wanted a bit more depth. Overall this was a great read.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a humorous adult fiction book. This book is appropriate for adults or young adults due to the mature content on some pages.

 

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!


 

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.

 

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Blog Tour: The Key to Everything

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
by
Valerie Fraser LuesseContemporary Christian Romance

Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352

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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget. Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon, and distancing himself from his son. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended.

Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave. 
 

Website║ Facebook  ║ Blog


 

Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished 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

 

The story begins with Peyton at yet another family event with the Cabot’s. His father, Marshall, had returned from the war some time ago and was dealing with his own demons from his past. A twist of events leads this semi-normal family into a world of new adventures and past discoveries. As Marshall recovers from an accident, Kate must work to keep his family at arm’s length as fights for his life. The life Payton once knew no longer exists as he works to grasp a hold of who his Father was. After learning of his father’s adventurous bike ride, Payton decides to take the same ride in an attempt to truly understand the father he felt like he never knew. We journey through the rest of this novel with Payton as he discovers who he really is, who his father was, and what love truly means. Will Payton find what he is looking for on his journey or will he die trying?

This is the first book I have read by this author and she has done an amazing job. I have always been interested in books writing based on different time periods. This novel is written based in the year 1947 after the completion of World War II. In the beginning of the book we see Payton described as a young boy who is in love with a new girl in town. However due to the events with his father he decides to break it off with her as he moves to another state state to be with his family as they work to heal. The author dives a bit into he healing process that a family goes through after the loss of a loved one and Payton learning to forgive his father for his alcoholism after returning from the war. Payton simply wants to understand the actions of his father and understand who he was before he went to war. On his long bike journey we see him develop friendships, get glimpse into his father’s past, discover his identity, and building lasting family in different places. He grows up fast after his father’s death and is able to not only take care of himself but those around him. All while he is working on his self discovery, his mother is at home working on grieving from a major loss. She seeks comfort in the Cabot family member and says goodbye to the life she built with her late husband. She learns to grieve in her own way by not only learning to set her husband free but also Payton. There is more to this story but you will have to read it to truly discover the love that exists not only between Marshall and Kate but between Payton and Lisa. Throughout this story you will find yourself not only captivated by the true love that exists but the courage and strength of Payton and his mother.

The author does a wonderful job unpacking multiple themes and plot twists as you continue throughout the novel. You both laugh, cry, gasp, and applaud while you read the stories of each character. Payton’s character is developed so eloquently that you feel as if you have been transported into the story with him as you ride the bike alongside him. Lisa’s character, although not seen as highly focal point character until later in the story, is well written and I enjoyed the bit of family drama that surrounded her character. Each character is developed in a way that provides depth and detail that can only be described as something straight out of a movie. Did I cry while reading this book? Yes. I didn’t cry because it was super emotional. I cried because of the beautiful scene the author created. The father’s passing was described as nothing but an act of God and the mother’s raw emotions when she prayed truly shows the great lengths of a mother’s love. It is often a challenge for to capture the true essence of grieving that is associated with living with a parent who has a destructive addiction that leaves the entire family feeling abandoned and left to pick up the pieces. I loved how the author showcases positive moments in a tumultuous journey. Each journey we take is a bit different but it is nice to read a book that allows you to connect a bit more with the characters and truly see parts of your life represented. This is such a great ode to Father’s and the families they leave behind.

 

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a captivating christian fiction novel based on a true story. This book is appropriate for adults and young adults.

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!


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June16-26, 2020

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Blog Tour: The First Emma

THE FIRST EMMA
by

Camille Di MaioHistorical Fiction / Historical Romance / Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
Date of Publication: May 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 315

Scroll down for the giveaway!
The First Emma is the true story of Emma Koehler. Whose tycoon husband Otto was killed in a crime-of-the-century murder by one of his two mistresses – both also named Emma – and her unlikely rise as CEO of a brewing empire during Prohibition. When a chance to tell her story to a young teetotaler arises, a tale unfolds of love, war, beer, and the power of women.
PRAISE for The First Emma

“Di Maio’s take on a shocking American drama pleasantly blends romantic and historical fiction . . . a sweet memorialization of a real-life female business pioneer in San Antonio.” —Kirkus

“A beautifully crafted portrait of an intriguing woman. Mystery and romance are set against the backdrop of fascinating pieces of twentieth-century history, and a richly drawn setting leaves the reader feeling wholly immersed. Historical fiction fans will love this one!” —Chanel Cleeton, NYT bestselling author of Next Year in Havana


“Di Maio does a brilliant job of weaving together all the threads—from past to present—while unearthing a tale of blossoming love, the power of our chosen family, and the losses that make us whole again.” —Rochelle B. Weinstein, USA Today bestselling author of This Is Not How It Ends

CLICK TO ORDER ON:
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Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished ebook  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

Emma Koehler, known as the first Emma, is a woman of great stature and determination. Her life took an unexpected turn of events as she lived through milestone moments. Emma watched her successful husband take on more than business ventures. Her relationship with her husband is described as purely contractual and far from an emotional connection. However, like any woman, Emma wanted the love of her husband but that would soon be deemed impossible after her accident. We are taken on a journey through history as we watch her story told by Maribel. Maribel is a young woman whose fiancé’ left her for another woman while at war. She answers an and for a job and leaves from Baltimore to Texas. We continue to watch as we learn more about the story of Emma Koehler told from the perspective of Maribel. Will they both find peace in this journey as the dive into the past?

Emma Koehler is a strong female lead who is described as taking charge and using her husband’s wandering eyes as a base to gain privilege in his company. She is an inspiring woman as she continues to take charge despite the many challenges she faced. Although, unable to live the life she wanted she insisted on making the best out of her situation. It was very interesting to read more about each Emma and their role in Otto’s death. We watch as Maribel is set as the narrator after a beginning that would leave any woman begging for a fresh start in a new place. Both women had a different start at life but they struggled with the men in their lives and you can see that connection in the beginning. The reader and the narrator are both captured by the story of Emma Koehler, both on the edge of their seats waiting for her next response. As we learn about each Emma and her role in the infidelity that plagued the Koehler household makes you wonder who is at fault in this situation. Is it the first Emma that lead to the death of Otto or is it the Emma that left? Throughout this story we are captivated by the strength, determination, and resiliency described in the first Emma. In the end, no one left this story unscathed.

I devoured this book in one sitting in less than three hours in an attempt to get to the end. In the beginning you are unsure of which direction the author will take the book as the title captures your attention. You wonder throughout the story, why is there a first Emma? The more the story unfolds then you understand the importance of the writing style and the way the author tells this story. The author does a phenomenal job with the telling of this story that captures the attention of the reader. You feel transported in the prohibition era and into the home of Emma and Otto Koehler. The contrast in stories from Emma and the narrator Maribel allows for a bit of a happy ending for both. I enjoyed reading about both Emma’s past and watching Maribel grow and develop in the story. It is truly remarkable to see such an interesting part of history told in such a way that provokes the reader to do more research on the subject matter. After reading this book I wanted to know more about the story of Emma and Otto. As you continue to journey through each page as the story unravels the intensity of each descriptive detail begins to reveal true emotions displayed by the main characters. Throughout this story I gasped, I cried a little, I laughed, and I applauded.

This is my first time reading a book by this author and I enjoy her writing style and attention to detail. I have read quite a few historical fictions and this book fits the bill of an entrancing read. You get to the end of the book and are excited to read more about the facts of the main character. You can tell the author was passionate about writing this book and took the time to do extensive research to ensure the story was told in a way that did not take the reader’s attention away from the first Emma. In the end, all I can say is “wow” what a wonderfully written book and I wish there was more.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in reading a captivating historical fiction novel. This book is appropriate for adults and young adults since it does not contain lewd content and is an easy read.

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!


Camille Di Maio always dreamed of being a writer, though she took a winding path of waitressing, temping, politicking, and real estate to get there. It all came to fruition with the publication of her bestselling debut, The Memory of Us, followed by Before the Rain Falls, The Way of Beauty, and The Beautiful Strangers. In addition to writing, she loves farmers’ markets, unashamedly belts out Broadway tunes when the mood strikes, and regularly faces her fear of flying to indulge her passion for travel. Married for twenty-three years, she home-schools their four children. (Though the first two are off at college now!) She is happy to live in Virginia near a beach. 

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ONE WINNER receives a signed copy of The First Emma
May 19-29, 2020
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Thank you, Garden

THANK YOU, GARDEN
By LIZ GARTON SCANLON
Illustrated by Simone Shin
Children’s Picture Book / Poetry / Environment / Ages 3-7
Publisher: Beach Lane Books / Simon & Schuster
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020

Number of Pages: 32

A community garden unites neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits, to friendships! 

This ode to working together for a better world will have young readers wanting to plant gardens of their own!

CLICK TO PURCHASE

 

Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of many beloved books for kids, including the brand new Thank You, Garden, as well as the Caldecott Honor book All the World and others, including several co-authored with her pal Audrey Vernick. Scanlon also wrote the middle grade novel The Great Good Summer and is published in numerous poetry anthologies. She serves on the faculty of the Vermont Faculty of Fine Arts and is a frequent and popular presenter at conferences and festivals. Find more about her life and work at www.LizGartonScanlon.com



Follow illustrator Simone Shin on Instagram!

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Each winner gets an autographed/personalized copy of
THANK YOU, GARDEN and ANOTHER WAY TO CLIMB A TREE
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Blog Tour : A Firm Place to Stand

A FIRM PLACE TO STAND
by
LORI ALTEBAUMER
Genre: Christian / Romantic Suspense
Independently published
Date of Publication: January 25, 2020
Number of Pages: 321

Scroll down for the giveaway!
 

Review

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished pdf copy 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

Has there ever been a moment in your life where you’ve felt like you can’t catch a break? Have you ever felt as though you were a burden to everyone you encounter? The main character Maribel has nothing but shortcomings her entire life but a job opportunity at Summer Camp in the middle has become available. She hasn’t had the best of luck with jobs or relationships but this may be her chance for a fresh start. That is until her car malfunctions and catches ablaze as she nears her new town. Within the first twenty-four hours of her arrival to her new town she finds a corpse in the river on her morning job, her car catches fire, and she has unexpectedly become involved in the secrets of her new town. Will she be able to uncover the secrets behind the dead body and the potential missing person? Can she keep her current role? How long can she keep her past hidden and stay hidden?

This book starts at a steady pace with the introduction of the main character and the author does a great job of capturing your attention in the beginning. We watch as Maribel’s character develops more as the storyline begins to unfold. The book begins with us seeing a glimpse into the past of Maribel and the preconceived notions she has about the people in her new town. She must learn to keep her guard up but also work to remove the walls she placed around herself to allow people a chance to get to know her. I enjoyed the development of each character and the realistic emotions tied to each character. Of course, as the story moved on I felt remorse for Maribel as she struggled to forgive herself for her past and move forward with the opportunity she was given. The author does a wonderful job of being descriptive when it came to explaining each character’s emotions, actions, and interactions. The writing style was intriguing where the author took the approach to alter between perspectives. There was no one true narrator in my opinion. The story was being told by each character and enjoyed getting the chance to be inside the mind of each character which aided in understanding the character development fully. I spent a great deal of time being both shocked and on the brink of tears while reading this book as it hit close to home to watch the main character try so hard. You can watch as the town’s secrets begin to unfold and Maribel sees who she can trust. With the journalist’s background in tow, she can observe her surroundings and get to the bottom of the town’s biggest secrets while simultaneously not realizing how sinister the villain in this novel is. I was thoroughly surprised and gasped out loud as finally came to the end of this book. All I can say is well done what a remarkable tale.

The author takes an interesting approach to the Christian based thriller. As the story continues to unfold you feel involved in the development of each character and invested in the outcome of the story. However, I did feel it was a little dry in some areas and wanted a bit more action. I felt there were high points in the story and a few low points in the story where I felt could have been developed a bit more. However, overall this was a well written Christian thriller. You can tell the author worked hard to have the biblical aspects of the story to fit well within the chapter. I enjoyed the fact that the author inserted a practical biblical tip of forgiveness and the importance of forgiveness. It is inspirational to see that focus inside this specific text that contains aspects of betrayal, loss, grief, and victimization. The author showcases the challenges of forgiveness from both parties. She sheds light on the perspective of forgiveness from the accuser and the person who has experienced the loss. the Bible discusses the importance of forgiveness throughout and the importance of relying on God to provide peace in the middle of a storm or turmoil. Special thanks to the author for doing a phenomenal job at incorporating the biblical aspect and the ability to have it flow so well.

 

I highly recommend this book for any who is interested in reading a thrilling christian mystery novel. This book is appropriate for young adults and higher as there isn’t any foul or rude content.

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!



 

A life-long Texan, Lori lives in a small community not far from the rugged West Texas landscape she loves to write about. The mother of now-grown twins, she has learned that the secret to survival is a well-developed sense of humor and an active prayer life. After years spent working in the insurance business, Lori now uses her time to educate, inspire, encourage, and entertain through the written word.

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Signed Copy of A Firm Place to Stand + $25 Gift Card to the Texas Indie Bookstore of Choice
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Blog Tour: The Caretakers

THE CARETAKERS
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
Genre:  Psychological Thriller / Gothic Fiction / Sisters Fiction 
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: April 14, 2020
Number of Pages: 317Scroll down for the giveaway!

In the isolated estate she’s found the perfect getaway. But there’s no escaping the past in this chilling novel from the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl.

Filmmaker Tessa Shepherd helped free a man she believed was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When he kills again, Tessa’s life is upended.
She’s reeling with guilt, her reputation destroyed. Worse, Tessa’s mother has unexpectedly passed away, and her sister, Margot, turns on her after tensions from their past escalate. Hounded by a bullying press, Tessa needs an escape. That’s when she learns of a strange inheritance bequeathed by her mother: a derelict and isolated estate known as Fallbrook. It seems like the perfect refuge.A crumbling monument to a gruesome history, the mansion has been abandoned by all but two elderly sisters retained as caretakers. They are also guardians of all its mysteries. As the house starts revealing its dark secrets, Tessa must face her fears and right the wrongs of her past to save herself and her relationship with Margot. But nothing and no one at Fallbrook are what they seem.

“Suspense fans will be satisfied.” —Publishers Weekly

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AMAZONINDIEBOUND
 

Rating :★★★★★

Disclaimer: This review is solely my opinion. I was provided a copy of a finished audiobook 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 thought you were making the right decision and then it turns out it could have been wrong? Tessa thought she was making the right decision when she helped to free someone she felt was innocent but her core is shaken the killer strikes again. Not only is Tessa facing the challenges of a crippling career after a murder was released on her watch but now there is turmoil in her family. Her relationship with her sister is tumultuous and now she must work with her sister to uncover the family’s many secrets as an estate turns up as an inheritance to both women. As Tessa works to uncover the mystery behind the estate in Fallbrook, she finds more than she bargained for.

This captivating audiobook captures you from the moment it begins with a vivid telling of this suspenseful novel. The author does an amazing job with the selection of the narrators for this book. Each narrator being picked precisely for the personality of the main characters. I loved that the story was told from different perspectives allowing the reader to engage with each character. The transitional viewpoints allow the reader to gain a better understanding of the two sets of sisters and how their timelines and stories intertwine.

You ever come to the end of a novel and wonder, did that just end like that? That was me finishing this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the entirety of this novel. The author did an exceptional job creating a novel that allows the reader to be connected and intertwined with each character. I felt every emotion that lined the pages of this novel as the characters’ stories started to unwind. There are twists, there are turns, there are moments where you want to both scream and cry at the same time. The ending left me to want ing more from the story and it completes shock. The reality of the struggles Tessa faces with her anxiety is both empowering and impactful. How many times have we all put on a facade but have been facing a crippling fear and anxiety underneath? It reminds me of some of the same emotions I faced when I struggled with anxiety but did not share it with anyone. The struggles Tessa and Margot faced with their relationship provides a realistic approach to how the lack of communication and cause the downfall of a family. Everyone had good intentions but sometimes those can be misinterpreted. I wonder how longer Dierdre can keep up the facade with Kitty and what’s next for Tessa.

This is my first time reading a book written by this author but I am thoroughly invested in her writing style and the way the words flow throughout this story. There were a few times that I was a bit lost trying to keep up with the supporting characters but overall this book was phenomenal. I enjoy this type of historical based writing style that captures the essence of an authentic thriller storyline that has you at the end of your seat during the full ride.

I highly recommend this book for any who is interested in reading a thrilling mystery novel. This book is appropriate for young adults and higher as there isn’t rude content but it does discuss anxiety and parts of the story can be a bit heavy for younger audiences.

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!

Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Shadow Writer, The Widow’s Watcher, The Unremembered Girl, The Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee. For more information, visit www.elizamaxwell.net.


 

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Blog Tour: Violence/Joy/Chaos

VIOLENCE / JOY / CHAOS
by
Jane Marshall Fleming
Essays / Poems
Publisher: Rhythm & Bones Press
On Twitter
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 154

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This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery.

Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.

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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

Have you ever had to make a challenging life choice? Held a secret from a family member? Have you ever been judged? Violence/ Joy/ Chaos is a collection of poetic writing that focuses on the life of the author. The author spends time diving into the most life-changing and challenging moments in her life. She takes you on the journey of love, loss, grief, self-discovery, pain, anger, and finally freedom. 

There aren’t too many words that I could use to fully describe how beautifully written this book of poetry is written. This book of poems flows wonderfully together as the author allows the reader to be transferred into her life. The highly descriptive writing style allows for the emotions of the author to be transferred onto the page. It is such a challenge to portray such raw emotions in such a way that not only captures the attention of the reader but also provides a connection between the reader and the storyline. There are moments during the reading that feel her anger, sadness, grief, love, pain, and finally freedom. You feel as though not only is she free from herself. Although her road to recovery and freedom was tumultuous it is truly enlightening to take on the journey to her discovering herself. The most beautiful part of this book is knowing that although she finally was able to find true love she still struggled daily with control. That is inspiring to know that it is okay to struggle even after you become free. Here dialogue with herself is powerful and shows the reader the true power of words. One of the most important conversations you will have is the one you have with yourself. 

I cried, I laughed, and I gasped while reading this book of poetry. There were a lot of instances where the author captures the essence of each moment being described. Throughout this collection of essays and poems, you find yourself crying when she cries, laughing when she laughs, and rejoicing in those moments of triumph. We are all transferred into her life as she takes us on a long-awaited journey through the years and we watch her find her voice and discover herself. There were a few moments where I essentially had to stop and process the information that was delivered. The following quote resonated with me the most. 

I had forgotten what brought me here. The loss, the pain. I left my

phone in the house while we walked. No buzzing, no texts, no pain.

No pain.

It encourages you to consider the times you have lost someone and have wandered from the path you were previously on. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a loss, it can be the end of a relationship, a traumatic event, or anything that has thrown your life for a loop. It reminds of those moments where you wander aimlessly hoping to find a place that has a solid ground or a place that will make you whole. I learned that wholeness for me didn’t come from a person but came from the Bible and building that relationship. Although you may find your freedom, it is okay to struggle but it is important to stay grounded and find your roots. 

I highly recommend this novel for any mature young adult. There are a few instances where they could be trigger warnings for those who have suffered abuse (sexual and domestic), struggled with suicide, and suffered a loss. I would take caution if you decide to read this book but overall the remaining context is appropriate for mature readers and adults. Special thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this book and thanks for writing it. It is an inspiring text. 

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!


Bourdeau Photo
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full length collection.

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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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February 25-March 5, 2020
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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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February 11-21, 2020

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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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