Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside: Review and Giveaway

Rating:


COWBOY, 
IT’S COLD OUTSIDE

A Twilight, Texas Novel

by
LORI WILDE
  Genre:  Contemporary Holiday Romance
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon 
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Number of Pages: 400
Rating: 4/5

Scroll down for the giveaway!

  
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde’s Twilight, TX Christmas novels are beloved for their emotional depth and ability to capture the sweetness of the holiday season. In her latest Twilight, Texas novel, COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, the holiday season is once again full of romance and surprises.
Everyone in town knows that Christmas in Twilight has a way of bringing lovers together . . . but will its magic bring this pair from “I won’t” to “I do?”
Wearing a too-tight “Santa Baby” costume held in by a double pair of Spanx, Paige MacGregor runs headlong into a gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a long, tall cowboy. And not just any cowboy, but country-western star Cash Colton, visiting Twilight to perform in a charity concert. Most women would melt at his feet, but Paige knows all-too-much about self-assured men with cocky attitudes, so she tells him to get lost.
Cash is in town, nursing his own broken heart, but Paige has knocked him off his feet. He’s convinced she’s perfect—someone to inspire his music and share his now-empty bed. True, he’s not marriage material, but he’s determined to convince her that they’re perfect together—at least for a while. But what he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the one woman who isn’t about to give him the time of day!
“When it comes to striking exactly the right balance between sweet and sexy, Wilde has the equivalent of perfect pitch.” — Booklist 

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Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside was the perfect Christmas read about giving love a chance. The story follows Cash Colton, a cowboy and famous country singer, and Paige MacGregor, a woman working three jobs just to make ends meet. Paige meets Cash when she’s working the theater to usher people to their seats. Unaware of who this cowboy is, Paige kicks him out of the theater, telling him he can’t enter until the doors open. Of course Cash is instantly drawn to her and for both, sparks sizzle between them. But to win Paige’s heart, Cash needs to work harder than just batting his dark eyelashes at her. His charm is enchanting, but it’s the kindness, friendship, and comfort in the man that draws Paige in.

Love is something hard for both. For Cash, he was told when he was little that love wasn’t worth the sacrifice. He puts his heart into his music, and love has become something foreign to him. Sure, he dates girls, sleeps with them, has the one night stands. Even had a girl friend for awhile, but Cash doesn’t really know what love is, until it hits him out of no where with Paige. As for Paige, she’s been hurt, bad, and refuses to give Cash the time of day no matter how charming and good looking the man is. But even so, he draws her to him and soon they begin their magical dance as they try to figure out what the other means to them and how their hearts will fit together.

Cowboy, It’s Cold Outside tugged on the strings of my heart. I’m sure I held my breath more than once reading this because Cash and Paige are just so cute together, and any wrench thrown in their path was an obstacle I wanted them to fix right away. They are perfect for each other! And I love how they each seem to bring out the best in the other, to change each other for the better. As characters, they continuously encourage each other to grow even if they didn’t realize it.

If you are looking for a charming, Christmas read, then this book is definitely for you. There’s so much to love about this book! And I simply loved seeing how their dance soared across the pages. It’s heartfelt, heart wrenching, and adorable. A lovely read!

One thing I absolutely loved in this books was their bickering at the beginning. Here is one of my favorite moments from the book:

“It was never my intention to embarrass or belittle you.”

“No? What was your intention?”

“It was supposed to have been a romantic gesture. I was trying to romance you.”

“Huh?”

“Stop looking at me like I’m a lunatic.” He growled, but it was a pleasant sound, more like a tomcat than a tiger.

“How in heaven’s name was that romantic?”

“As things turned out, it wasn’t. But most woman I know would be over the moon to get pulled up onstage-“

“Does it hurt?” she asked. 

“Does what hurt?”

“Carrying around such a gigantic ego.” 

 

A fifth generation Texan, Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
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The Secret Room: Promo and Giveaway

 

THE SECRET ROOM
(Amber-Autumn Series, #4)

by
JOHN ALEXANDER
  Genre: Children’s Mystery / Chapter Book
Date of Publication: October 14, 2017
Number of Pages: 159

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Amber and Autumn, elementary school sisters, don’t seek out problems to solve, but they often find themselves engaged in uncovering truths, solving mysteries, and helping others in the process. Autumn’s natural curiosity, combined with her boldness, leads her to push for answers to anything she does not understand. Amber, her older sister, more cautious and easily spooked, prefers to let Autumn drive ahead to solve mysteries which come their way, but her keen skills of observation often lead to the resolutions they seek.

In The Secret Room, the girls, during their stay at a  B&B, discover a long-forgotten room in the attic and uncover its secrets. The story takes place at the House of Seasons, a bed-and-breakfast in historic Jefferson, Texas. Their quest to uncover secrets takes the girls on a journey through Jefferson history including a cemetery, a river boat tour, and even an evening ghost walk.




PRAISE FOR THE SECRET ROOM:
“Great book, really enjoyed reading.  I’d guess a target audience would be 7 to 13-year-olds. Thank you for allowing me the honor to preview your book.  I look forward to purchasing your published work.” — Joseph (Teen Beta reader)

The Secret Room is a fun read. Not only is it a mystery; it also contains some of the history of Jefferson, Texas, and the surrounding area, as well as pictures of some special places there. Children and adults will enjoy reading it, just as I did.  — Carol (Adult Beta Reader)

“Overall I thought it was a great book. I would be excited to read the next book in the series.” –Madeline (4th grade Beta Reader)

 “The whole time I liked the suspense and the mystery side of it.” – Beta Reader

“I relate more to Amber because she doesn’t like a situation without light and she doesn’t like doing scary things first. She sends her little sister in to do it first and I do that. Amber is the older sister and so am I.” – Beta Reader

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CLICK TO PURCHASE

John writes chapter books that appeal to elementary school children to capture their imagination and help them discover the love of reading early in life. John lives in Frisco, Texas with his beautiful wife and his King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Charlie Brown.
John spent his childhood in a small town in east Texas. He attended college at the University of Texas earning a BS in Physics and a BA in Math (minor in Computer Science). His years in the high-tech industry, most of it on the “bleeding edge,” allowed him to develop new technology with software.
John had the privilege of co-authoring two editions of CallManager Fundamentals. The two books sold over 23,000 copies, exceeding the publisher’s goal of 8,000. Having discovered his love for writing while still working in high tech, he began writing fiction in his spare time and published The Enclave, a mystery / suspense novel, in 2010.

After leaving high-tech in 2014, he now spends full time pursuing his writing passion. He loves writing books that help children discover early in life that reading is a fun adventure. He recently released illustrated editions of the first three books in the Amber-Autumn mystery series: Christmas Garden Illustrated, Grandfather’s Blessing Illustrated, and Golden Campout Illustrated. The Secret Room is the fourth book in the series.
WEBSITE  FACEBOOK  PINTEREST
   TWITTER  GOODREADS   
AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

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GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of all four Amber-Author series books + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
TWO RUNNERS-UP: Signed copy of The Secret Room
November 27-December 6, 2017
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Lamar’s Folly: Author Interview

LAMAR’S FOLLY

by
Jeffrey Stuart Kerr
  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 320

Mirabeau Lamar seeks nothing less than a Texas empire that will dominate the North American continent. Brave exploits at the Battle of San Jacinto bring him rank, power, and prestige, which by 1838 propel him to the presidency of the young Republic of Texas and put him in position to achieve his dream. Edward Fontaine, who works for and idolizes Lamar, vows to help his hero overcome all obstacles, including the substantial power of Sam Houston. Houston and Lamar are not only political, but personal enemies, and each man regards the other with contempt.

Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.
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What did you find most useful in learning to write for publication?  What was least useful or most destructive? Most useful: ultimately, it is up to you to decide what goes into the manuscript. I can’t think of any destructive lessons along the way.

What did you enjoy most about writing this book? Imagining a world that has disappeared but that preceded us by only a few generations.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?  I wish I had been able to think of a way to include a more developed, strong female character.  

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing? Part-time with the goal of becoming full-time.  The hard part about being a part-time writer is coming back to a project after being away from it for a week or more.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  Have any of them impacted your writing? I have been a physician for thirty years.  In my work, I have met a wide variety of people and heard all manner of speech.  This has helped tremendously in creating authentic characters and dialog.

How has your formal education influenced or impacted your writing? In my freshman history class at Rice, the professor, Frank Vandiver, hammered home the idea of avoiding passive voice.  That remains foremost in my mind when I write.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like? I need a desk with enough space on it for my laptop and beverage of choice in a quiet room free of distraction.  My actual spot is a little more cluttered than I would like but meets the other criteria nicely.

What do you like to read in your free time? Mysteries, spy novels, thrillers, historical fiction, and lively history books.

Who are some of the authors you feel were influential in your work?  Some of my favorites include John LeCarre, Elmore Leonard, and Craig Johnson, each of whom tells great stories but leaves much for the reader to figure out.  On the flip side, I enjoy Michael Connelly’s books for their straightforward style and well-developed, complex characters.  Two favorite writers of historical fiction are Robert Harris and Bernard Cornwell.

What book do you wish you could have written? Imperium, Robert Harris’s outstanding historical novel based on the life of the Roman statesman Cicero.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it? The Holocaust.  It’s too painful and there are already a slew of excellent books about it.

What question do you wish someone would ask about your book, but nobody yet has? Why write a novel about Mirabeau Lamar?

What do your plans for future projects include? I would like to write more historical fiction set in the Texas frontier.  I also plan on writing “Lamar’s Folly” as a screenplay.

Who would you cast to play your characters in a movie version of your book? Mirabeau Lamar – Josh Brolin.  Sam Houston – George Clooney.  Edward Fontaine – Chris Pine.  Jacob – Daniel Kaluuya

If you had a superpower, what would it be? Flying

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before? Antarctica

What’s something interesting, fun, or funny that most people don’t know about you? I’m sixty, but I still fantasize playing center field for the Houston Astros.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die? Have a novel published by a major publishing house; see one of my screenplays turned into a movie.


Jeffrey Stuart Kerr is the author of several titles, including Seat of Empire: The Embattled Birth of Austin, Texas, winner of the Summerfield G. Roberts Award and a True West Best Western Book.




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Chicano Soul: Excerpt

 

CHICANO SOUL
Recordings and History of an American Culture
(Anniversary Edition)

by
Ruben Molina
  Genre: Music / Chicano History
Date of Publication: September 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 160
In 2007, Ruben Molina published the first-ever history of Mexican-American soul and R&B music in his book, Chicano Soul: Recordings and History of an American Culture. Ten years later, Chicano Soul remains an important and oft-referenced study of this vital but often overlooked chapter of the greater American musical experience. Chicano soul music of the 1950s and 1960s still reverberates today, both within Chicano communities and throughout many musical genres. Molina tells the story of the roots of Chicano soul, its evolution, and its enduring cultural influence.
“Brown-eyed soul” music draws on 1950s era jazz, blues, jump blues, rock `n’ roll, Latin jazz, and traditional Mexican music such as ranchera, norteño, and conjunto music. With its rare and gorgeous photos, record scans, concert bills, and impressive discography (to say nothing of its rich oral histories/interviews), it is one of those rare works that speaks to both general and academic audiences.
As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loves. Much of Chicano soul music’s recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.


PRAISE FOR CHICANO SOUL:
“[Chicano Soul} is nada if not revelatory… Molina seeks acknowledgement of this under-the-radar genre. With this book, he’ll get it. By linking the trail of Chicano soul bands to the route of the Mexican-American migrant workers across the United States as well as the migration of south-of-the-border families into Texas after the Mexican Revolution, the author presents a compelling account of rock and roll heroes literally unsung. Molina makes a case for teenagers who took their parents’ musical traditions, the trappings of black R&B bands with pop sensibilities, and channeled them into a vibrant sound that helped define the culture it sprang from.” —Austin Chronicle

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EXCERPT from the Foreword by Alex La Rotta, in Chicano Soul
Oldies are forever. It’s a mantra. A credo. A maxim for diehard sweet soul enthusiasts from Los Angeles to London, Toronto to Tokyo, and beyond. Ruben Molina’s The Old Barrio Guide to Low Rider Music (2002) and Chicano Soul: Recordings & History of an American Culture (2007) — its sacred texts. Not since Paul Oliver’s The Story of the Blues (1969) has a Book and author so distinctively revived a vintage and marginal American music culture from obscurity to widespread and cult-like revelry. What was once a niche collector’s category in the aughts and prior is a recognized subgenre in the twenty-tens: Chicano Soul. In the decade since its publication, Chicano Soul — like the long-lost recordings it so lovingly documents and historicizes — has itself become a collector’s item. Original copies highly-prized and sought after by record collectors, music aficionados, DJs, musicians, fans, and others. And, too, like much of the music in question: finally receiving its due reissuance. (Only this: a legitimate, not bootleg, reissuance.)
Its long-awaited return is timely. A brief review of the past ten years in popular music culture must surely include the massive reemergence of the vinyl music format (and its swift cooptation by the music industry); roots and vintage pop music revival (film/television soundtracks, documentaries, compilations, cultural histories, etc.); and the (ongoing) digital music revolution. Most notably, as it concerns the latter, one might also note the ascension of streaming media and video-sharing websites in democratizing and disseminating “rare groove” music of the analog past for broader audiences of the digital present. Further still, YouTube- and social media based soulero (sweet soul) DJs and record collector cliques build notoriety as prized possessors of rare Chicano Soul records to wide acclaim — much of which builds on Molina’s foundation. While the diffusion of music and cultural history in the past decade has broadened, the appreciation of this specific brand of soul music has expanded in tandem. You know it as the West Side Sound, the East Side Sound, Brown-Eyed Soul, Latin Soul, Lowrider Oldies, even rock en español — all components of the vast domain of mid-century Chicano Soul music culture principally documented in Molina’s work. And a book that remains today the only single monograph devoted to the subject.
            More importantly, Chicano Soul challenges the assumptions and stereotypes of what “Latin music” could or should be in both popular culture and preceding musical-historical analyses: tropical, exotic, and almost always, distinctly foreign. Unequivocally, this music is none. It is, as the subtitle denotes, an American culture. Molina’s meticulous documentation of over 400 Mexican-American musicians/rock-and-roll combos spanning the American Southwest (née Aztlán) — and their collective thousands of independent recordings — deserves recognition if just for its impressive magnitude. But it’s the paradigm shift that Chicano Soul, and other recent works from such scholars as Deborah Vargas, Roberto Avant-Mier, Anthony Macias, Josh Kun, and Deborah Pacini Hernández, among others, provides for the current discourse on racial identity, hybridity, and the origins of American popular music that warrant as much praise. In part, a response to the tired narrative surrounding America’s supposed black/white racial binary and the forging of a national culture. Yes: Chicanos made soul music. Lots of it. And it’s damn good, too.

As a teen in the 1960s, Ruben Molina used to take a bus to Hollywood to shop for records, and his passion for vinyl never waned. As a dedicated community historian, Molina interviewed dozens of the artists whose music he loved. Much of Chicano soul music’s recent recognition and renaissance can be traced directly to Molina. He has deejayed with the Southern Soul Spinners crew since 2010.

Author Links:

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Swan Song: Excerpt

Check out this awesome book entitled Swan Song by Charlotte Wilson. Be sure to check out an excerpt and author links as well!

 

Book synopsis:

LOVE AND LONGING IN THE BRIGHT LIGHTS OF LONDON

When iconic ballerina Beatrice Duvall died, a nation mourned – and a legacy was born. Sixteen years later, her daughter Ava comes to London to take part in a high-profile tribute to Beatrice, and to learn about the mother she never knew.

There’s just one snag: the tribute is a ballet, Swan Lake. Which is infinitely painful for Ava, because she can’t dance. Won’t dance. Not since she quit the Royal Ballet School last year and walked away from everything that defined her.

But this is London, colourful and crazy, and with actor Seb at her side, there’s so much to discover. Like Theatreland razzmatazz and rooftop picnics and flamingo parties. And a whole load of truths Ava never knew about her mother – and herself.

When the time comes to take the stage, will Ava step out of the shadow cast by her mother’s pedestal? And who will be waiting for her there, in the bright lights?

A coming-of-age novel about family and first love, in the city of hopes and dreams.

Book excerpt:

The Tube from Turnham Green is quiet, until we reach Earl’s Court, where it starts filling up. By the time we get to Victoria I’m in a scrum spilling out onto the platform. I find the Victoria Line platform and shoe-horn myself into a carriage; Seb would be proud of my elbow action.

At Oxford Circus I’m carried by a sea of shoppers up the escalators, across the foyer and up some steps to the street level. I’ve managed to come out the right exit, opposite the flagship Topshop. The massive store calls to me. Now that’s where to buy a dress for the tribute. Simple and trendy. I dread to think what Thisbe’s wardrobe department contact is going to make me. Something showbiz, I guess: long and loud and sparkly. Ugh.

But I don’t want to offend Thisbe, who’s called in a favour, apparently, to get me a dress sewn so quickly. So, with a sigh, I turn my back on Topshop and trudge down Argyll Street. When I see the Palladium, like a classical temple with massive columns, my mood lifts. At least I’m getting to visit one of London’s most historic theatres, where anyone who’s anyone has performed over the years, from Elvis Presley to Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald, Elton to Adele – even The Muppets have taken to this stage. I wonder: will I get to stand on the stage?

Nope, is the answer. I don’t even see the auditorium. A security guard shows me from the foyer down into the underbelly of the theatre, to a small, windowless room made even smaller by its many contents: two dressmaker’s dummies, a hanging rail of costumes, shelves of fabric and haberdashery, and a desk for the sewing machine. I barely have time to make a mental comparison of this room and the wardrobe department at the Royal Opera House – in a big room overlooking the Piazza and flooded with light – before a girl springs out from behind one of the dummies and hugs me.

Hugs me?

Thankfully, it’s brief. She steps back and beams. I smile back automatically, and in a second I take her in: round, rosy face, electric-blue eyes, dark wavy hair. She’s a little older than me, maybe twenty, and wearing stylish jeans and a really unusual shirt covered with little embroidered seahorses.

“You’re Cara Cavendish?” I say, daring to hope that maybe my dress won’t end up being horrendously glitzy after all.

“The one and only,” she says cheerfully. “And you’re Ava-who-needs-a-dress. Thisbe explained. Sit, sit…” She pulls out a little stool from under the desk and I perch on it.

Cara walks around me in a circle, eying me up and down. “Easy-peasy,” she declares. “Dancers’ forms are so simple to dress.”

“Oh,” I say. “I’m not a dancer.”

She completes her circuit and leans on the desk, looking curiously at me. “But you’re Beatrice Duvall’s daughter,” she says.

The name gives me a jolt, but I manage to reply evenly: “That doesn’t make me a dancer.”

“’Course not,” says Cara. “I mean, my mum was an architect, and look at me! But I heard you were training to be a dancer like your mother. With the Royal Ballet.”

“I was. I… stopped.”

“Oh. Why was that then?”

I frown at Cara. She smiles back at me.

“Did Thisbe put you up to this?” I ask.

“Up to what?”

“All the questions.”

“Oh, no. That’s just me. My brother’s always telling me I’m blunt, because I don’t go in for all that evasive British crap – ignoring the elephant in the room. Better to lay it all out there and say, ‘My mum’s dead, and it sucks.’ You know?”

“Not really,” I reply honestly. I’ve never said those words in my life.

Cara nods like I’ve said something profound. Then, to my relief, she claps her hands and says, “Let’s talk dresses.”

After a quick-fire round of questions designed to establish my style, Cara hands me a scrapbook in which she’s pasted cuttings, photos and drawings of formal dresses, and she talks me through cuts, lengths, necks, sleeves and fabrics. Somewhere around the midi dress page I begin to come undone.

“What is it?” she says.

“Nothing,” I say.

“Something,” she says. “You look like you’re about to have a panic attack. Is it claustrophobia? This room is a little dinky.”

“It’s not that. It’s…”

She waits expectantly. I gesture to the scrapbook.

“It’s just all a bit real, suddenly, looking at these dresses. I mean, I’ve got to wear one and stand on a stage at the Royal Opera House in front of people. Lots of people.”

“Ah,” she says. “Yeah, I’d be a wreck doing that. But you’ve performed on stage before, right?”

“Sure. Plenty of times. But this isn’t a performance. I have to be myself. I mean…”

“You mean you have to be your mother’s daughter. And your mother was the legendary Beatrice Duvall.”

Startled, I nod. She gets it. I don’t even know this girl, but she gets it.

“So,” Cara says, plucking the scrapbook off my lap and leafing through the pages, “what you need, besides the strength to get on that stage, is a really kick-ass dress. A dress that makes you feel tall and powerful and goddam beautiful, like nothing can touch you while you’re wearing it. Ah-ha. Here. This one. What do you think?”

The dress illustration jumps right off the page. It’s bold, it’s simple, it’s glamorous, it shouts “designer”: a strapless bodice with criss-crossing satin ribbons and a flowing skirt with chiffon overskirt ending just on the knee.

“Wow,” I say. “You can make that? In time?”

She grins. “Hell yeah.”

“And you think I can pull that off?”

Her grin widens. “Hell yeah.”

Book link:

https://www.amazon.com/Swan-Song-Charlotte-Wilson-ebook/dp/B075D4XH1V/

Mini Interview With Author:

What is the inspiration for the story?

A kaleidoscope of ideas… Memories of performing on stage. The years I lived in Kensington, London. The many shows I’ve seen in the West End. A backstage tour of the Royal Opera House. The public reaction to Princess Diana’s death. My own experience of losing my mother.

What draws you to this genre?

Young adult: the time of life that most signifies discovery and sensation and freedom. Dreaming big; confronting reality. Being trendy; being quirky and out of step. Messing up gloriously; succeeding epically. First crush, first kiss, first love. Making memories that will last a lifetime.

Why do you write?

Because writing makes the blood sing in my veins; it makes me feel alive; it defines me. Because I’m a bibliophile, and the only thing better than having a book in my hand is having my own book in my hand. Because I want to entertain, inspire – and leave a legacy for my children.

About the Author:

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess. ‘Write, Charlotte,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Charlotte writes the kind of books she loves to read: romances. She lives in a village of Greater Manchester with her husband and two children, and when she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her walking someplace green, baking up a storm or embarking on a DIY project. She recently achieved a lifetime ambition of creating a home library for her ever-increasing collection of books. She pretends not to notice that the shelves are rather wonky.

Author links

Website: http://bookishcharlotte.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bookishcharlotte/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BookishLotte

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bookishcharlotte/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15932269.Charlotte_Wilson

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Charlotte-Wilson/e/B00TDH4XLS/

Understanding Cemetery Symbols: Excerpt and Giveaway

UNDERSTANDING CEMETERY SYMBOLS
A Field Guide for Historic Graveyards
(Messages from the Dead)
by
TUI SNIDER

  Genre: History / Landmarks & Monuments / Iconography
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: August 19, 2017
Number of Pages: 250

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Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider helps history buffs, genealogists, ghost hunters, and other curiosity seekers decode the forgotten meanings of the symbols our ancestors placed on their headstones. By understanding the meaning behind the architecture, acronyms, & symbols found in America’s burial grounds, readers will gain a deeper appreciation for these “messages from the dead.”


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Praise for Understanding Cemetery Symbols:


“When I ordered this book I thought it would be good for information concerning cemetery symbolism. I was wrong. It is GREAT!!!! This has already become my go to guide for all types of cemetery information. By far the best book I have come across!”  – Amazon verified purchase, wearylibrarian

“Wow! What a great book! I got bit by the bug doing genealogy research. I always wondered what the symbols meant and could not find a reliable resource for the info. With Ms. Snider’s book along with the symbiology and great pictures, also a creative process of Tui’s, are plenty of interesting tidbits! Useful and entertaining! The book is small enough to keep in the glove box or your handbag or backpack!!” – Amazon verified purchase, Rev. Joy Daley
“I always enjoyed walking through a cemetery and looking at the stones. Now it will give it a much deeper meaning. I really enjoyed reading this book!”  – Amazon verified purchase, Deborah D.

“Perfect book to get an idea for symbols and meaning. Only glanced through it and already picked up a few facts! Welcome addition to our growing library…” – Amazon verified purchase, Toripotterfan

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What are scraped graves?

Excerpt from Understanding Cemetery Symbols

by Tui Snider

SCRAPED GRAVES IN THE RURAL SOUTH

Lush green lawns have become such a common feature of today’s burial grounds that if you could travel back in time to the 1800’s for a graveyard tour through the rural South, you might be in for a shock. It’s easy to forget that the first lawn mower wasn’t invented until 1830. Even then, lawn grasses weren’t developed by the US Department of Agriculture until the 1930’s, a good 100 years later.

To early settlers, grass had different connotations than it does today. Not only could it harbor bugs and snakes, but in the days before lawn sprinklers, a large expanse of dried grass could be a fire hazard. Just as a homesteader’s cabin often had dirt floors, their yards, as well, were often kept free of vegetation.

By the same token, early cemeteries throughout the South were often scraped clean of plant life. This practice spread throughout 19th century cemeteries in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas.

Historians now think this practice came to America through the influence of African Americans, since a similar custom of scraped burial grounds with mounded graves is seen along the slave coast of Africa. It’s assumed that the custom then gained popularity throughout the South due to its practical aspects.

Over time, however, people forgot the original how and why behind this tradition began and simply assumed it was a way of showing respect for the dead.

Although dozens of scraped burial grounds still existed throughout the South as late as the 1990’s, few, if any, remain today. You may still, however, find a few graves here and there that are covered in gravel or mounded up and decorated with shells. When you find graves like this, you are likely standing in one of these formerly scraped grave cemeteries that has since been covered with grass.

FAMILY TENDED PLOTS

Scraped earth or not, it was the responsibility of the deceased person’s family to maintain their grave. For this reason, family plots were clearly marked so people knew exactly which area they were in charge of maintaining.

Throughout the 19th century annual cemetery cleanup days, often called “Decoration Day” or “Homecoming,” were the norm, especially in rural communities. In the 1800’s these cleanup days were major social events for the community. These were festive gatherings, with picnics, prayers, and even games and frivolity for children and adults. In this way, the maintenance and upkeep of the community cemetery allowed people to maintain social ties with the living, while also paying respect to the dead.

As families have scattered, annual cemetery cleanup parties are not as common or as big of a community event as they once were. Sometimes you will see information about these events posted by the cemetery gates or outbuildings. Even today, in smaller rural communities, many historic cemeteries rely on volunteers for maintenance.

Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in quirky travel, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!”

Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences and bookstores. Her best-selling books include Paranormal Texas, The Lynching of the Santa Claus Bank Robber, Unexpected Texas, and Understanding Cemetery Symbols. She recently taught classes based on her books at Texas Christian University.

When not writing books, you can find Tui exploring the historic graveyards and backroads of Texas with her husband, Larry. 
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Hidden Sea: Playlist and Giveaway

HIDDEN SEA
by
MILES ARCENEAUX
  Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date of Publication: November 2017
Number of Pages: 384
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Charlie Sweetwater saw Mexico—especially the Mexican Gulf Coast—as a spiritual second home. He’d worked, played and lived there for much of his life, and thought the country suited him better than anywhere this side of his home on the Texas Coast.
But now a worrisome and potentially dangerous development has shown up on Charlie’s radar. Young Augustus Sweetwater, affectionately known as Augie, hasn’t reported in after completing a south-of-the-border sales trip for Sweetwater Marine. Raul, Augie’s father and Charlie’s nephew, is worried sick. Drug cartel violence in Mexico has reached epidemic proportions and Augie’s path took him through the heart of the narcotraficantes’ territory.
Charlie figures Augie just went off the grid to do some well-deserved fishing, surfing and beer-drinking at the end of his trip. He’d done the same in his time. But as Augie’s unexplained absence grows, Charlie and Raul become increasingly alarmed and set off for Mexico to bring their boy home.
What they unearth is far more than the sum of their fears. The familiar and friendly Gulf of Mexico has turned into a hidden sea plagued by smugglers, human traffickers, crooked politicians and even pirates. And Augie is lost somewhere in the middle of it all.
Charlie and Raul must summon an unlikely cast of characters to aid them, including a hilariously dissolute ex-pat musician, a priest whose faith struggles against the rising tide of refugee migration, a Mexican tycoon who may have secrets of his own and a beautiful maritime “repo man”. At the end of their quest, as the deepest secret of all is revealed, Charlie Sweetwater learns that neither Raul and Augie, nor the Gulf of Mexico, nor even himself, will ever be the same again.
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Praise for Hidden Sea:

“A riveting story from Texas that wanders down the cartel-invested Gulf Coast of Mexico and drifts across to lawless Cuba. The characters are as salty as the sea and the plot pulls you along as powerfully as the loop current.
W.F. Strong, Stories from Texas, Texas Standard Radio Network
“Hidden Sea is a total blast: smart, funny, and riveting, with unforgettably colorful characters and a world so alive that you’ll swear you’re really there.”
Lou Berney, Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone
  
“In Hidden Sea, Miles Arceneaux tosses us in the drink of a timely contemporary adventure tale with the Sweetwater clan, complete with pirates, slave ships, family secrets, and the mother of all plot twists, in his patented Gulf Coast noir style.”

Michelle Newby Lancaster, Contributing Editor, Lone Star Literary Life, NBCC Literary Critic

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Check out Miles Arceneaux’s playlist for Hidden Sea

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“Miles Arceneaux” is the pen name of three long-time Texas friends. James R. Dennis is a former attorney turned Dominican friar who lives in San Antonio. Brent Douglass is an international businessman from Austin. John T. Davis, also of Austin, is a journalist and author. Together, as “Miles,” they have been featured authors at the Texas Book Festival, the San Antonio Book Festival, and the Lubbock Book Festival.
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Two Runners-Up: Each win an autographed copy of Hidden Sea

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The Unremembered Girl: Review and Giveaway

Rating:


THE UNREMEMBERED GIRL

by
ELIZA MAXWELL
  Genre: Psychological Suspense / Mystery
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: November 1, 2017
Number of Pages: 332

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In the deep woods of East Texas, Henry supports his family by selling bootleg liquor. It’s all he can do to keep his compassionate but ailing mother and his stepfather—a fanatical grassroots minister with a bruising rhetoric—from ruin. But they have no idea they’ve become the obsession of the girl in the woods.
Abandoned and nearly feral, Eve has been watching them, seduced by the notion of family—something she’s known only in the most brutal sense. Soon she can’t resist the temptation to get close. Where Henry’s mother sees a poor girl in need, his father sees only wickedness. When Henry forges an
unexpected bond with Eve, he believes he might be able to save her. He doesn’t know how wrong he is.
Eve is about to take charge of her own destiny—and that of Henry’s family. As both their worlds spin violently out of control, Henry must make an impossible choice: protect the broken young woman who’s claimed a piece of his soul, or put everyone he loves at risk in order to do the right thing.


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Praise for The Grave Tender, Maxwell’s previous book:

“An emotional powerhouse of a story that will leave readers reeling from the beginning to the end.” —Christena Stephens, Forgotten Winds

“Beautiful and intoxicating.” —Chelsea Humphrey, The Suspense is Thrilling Me

“Haunting. Lyrical. Beautiful. Dark. At times, sickening.” —Julia Byers, Books in the Garden

“This is dark psychological suspense that skillfully inspires a slow-dawning dread. . .It will shred you.” — Michelle Newby, Lone Star Literary Life
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Check out the book trailer!


The Unremembered Girl is a riveting and captivating story. For fans of Shutter Island, this story will surely unravel your heart just as deeply. It’s a psychological suspense with a heart wrenching twist that you won’t see coming. It’s dark, its gripping, and it’s the kind of read that will keep you up late at night just so you can tear through the pages. A novel worth devouring!


The Unremembered Girl is told by multiple points of view. There’s Henry, Caroline, Eve, Jonah, Del, Alice, and Livingston. Henry has longed to serve his country but remains at his sick mothers side to help take care of her. In the mean time, his mother Caroline takes in a damaged and quiet girl Eve that has been living in the woods. This girl has been emotionally broken and hurt in absolutely horrible ways. Caroline gives her a home, gives her love, and does her best to take care of the girl. Henry too begins to feel like he’s Eve’s protector and does everything he can to help the girl with her haunting past. A past that has twisted and tormented the poor girl into something dark that Henry isn’t sure he can save her from.

I loved everything about this book, from the characters, to the driven and fast pace plot, and to the suspense and thrill of the mystery behind Eve. This book is gripping and truly an unstoppable force. You won’t be able to put this book down. Get ready though for some heartache!

Eliza Maxwell, whom gave us a gripping read with The Grave Tender, has truly done it again! You don’t want to miss this truly spectacular read!

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband and two kids. She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers. You can find her at theelizamaxwell@gmail.com
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Grand Prize ($90 value): Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, 1.75 mL bottle of Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, Jusalpha white porcelain decorative cake stand, recipe for “Caroline’s Coconut Cake” (featured in the book), $20 Amazon Gift Card.
2nd Prize: Autographed copy of The Unremembered Girl, $10 Amazon Gift Card
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A Memory of Fire Excerpt and Giveaway

A Memory of Fire
R.L. Stedman
(SoulNecklace Stories #3)
Publication date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

About my wrist is a tattoo of roses, strung like beads on a bracelet of thorns. I have a past, if only I could remember — but I cannot remember.

Held captive in a strange city, Dana dreams of fire and flight. There is something she must find, but she does not know what it is, or why it is important. If only her dreams would let her rest.

Half a world away, Will studies a new, exciting discipline. But while N’tombe the enchantress is impressed by his newfound skills, inside he feels only desperation. A terrible moment is approaching; soon, Dana must face her final ordeal. Is his new power enough to save her? And is he prepared for what might happen next?

In this thrilling conclusion to the award-winning SoulNecklace Stories, Will and Dana must make a heart-breaking choice. A choice that may change their world forever.

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Excerpt:

“Will never enjoyed sea travel. At best it was boring; at worst it was downright dangerous. He preferred solid ground. Traveling on foot might be tiring and hard on the shoes, but it carried one advantage: you couldn’t be drowned.

“Ready?” TeSin asked.

Will settled the blindfold across his eyes. “Not really.”

The strangest part of this journey was that TeSin, a warrior Will had left for dead, was teaching him a new fighting technique! Who would have thought an enemy might become a teacher?

TeSin laughed. “I will be kind.”

Will doubted this, but he raised his staff anyway. Clack! TeSin knocked it aside. “Hey!” Will rubbed his stinging palms.

“You must try,” TeSin said.

“I am trying.”

“You think you try.”

Lifting his blindfold, Will peered in irritation at the older man. “What more can I do?”

TeSin raised his staff. “Try again.” 

Above in the rigging sailors made bets with each other: which fighter would take the first hit, when would Will be knocked out, how long each bout would last. None of the bets favored Will.

Focus.

The sailors fell silent. TeSin’s feet moved just as the ship lifted on the swell, and for a moment Will knew exactly what TeSin would do; he would lift his sword arm, raise the other as a guard, then lunge forward, drive the point home. Will swung his staff down, blocking the lunge, and twisted. A sailor howled in annoyance (ha! Someone lost their bet), and the Noyan’s warm breath touched Will’s face. Will swept his left leg forward and bashed his head toward TeSin. Their foreheads connected, hard.

“Ugh!” TeSin grunted.

Will heard the man stagger sideways. The Noyan was a bad sailor. Perhaps he had a chance after– “Uh!” he grunted, as TeSin’s staff caught him in the belly. Will staggered backwards and fell hard on the wooden deck.

From above, the sailors cheered. “Come on, lad!” “My money’s on the foreign one!” “Get up, boy!”

Awkwardly, Will got to his feet and, catching his breath, stood listening. The soft plut-plut of the waves; the snap of the wind in the canvas above; the shouting of the sailors; the soft glide of the Noyan’s bare feet on the deck.

And here comes the lunge. Will ducked, felt the sideswipe skim across his back and his kick. He jumped backwards and felt the Noyan’s foot just miss his face. Quite suddenly, the dance of the fight caught him. Oh, he loved those moments; when everything focused on the now. Will didn’t need to see. In the very center of his being, Will knew TeSin’s next move. He feinted; left, right, and barreled forward. His shoulder caught the Noyan hard in the belly (fighting like children!) and the man toppled backwards.

“Go lad!” shouted one sailor, but the rest booed. Doubtless they had lost money.

Will grinned and tore off the blindfold. TeSin lay on the deck coughing, but he smiled, and lifted an arm to Will. “You do well.”

Will took the offered hand and pulled the Noyan onto his feet. “Thank you.” He waved the blindfold at the sailors. “So. Who bet on me?” Two swarthy men raised their hands, grinning. “Thank you, boys. When we’re next in port, I’ll be buying you drinks.” “

 

Author Bio:

Award-winning author Rachel Stedman lives in Dunedin, New Zealand with her husband and two children. Her first novel, A Necklace of Souls, won Best First Novel at the New Zealand Post Book Awards 2014. In 2012 Rachel was the winner of the Tessa Duder Award and was shortlisted for the Tom Fitzgibbon Award. If she’s not got her nose in a book, she’s on instagram or twitter (@rlstedman) or at her local library. Her website is www.RLStedman.com.

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