A Texas Kind of Christmas: Review and Giveaway


A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS  
by
JODI THOMAS,   Celia Bonaduce, & Rachael Miles

Genre: Historical Fiction / Anthology / Holiday Romance Publisher: Kensington Books Publication Date: October 29, 2019
Number of Pages: 336 pages

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It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who’s anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicholas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season. It’s the kind of Texas night where anything can happen—even love . . . 

ONE NIGHT AT THE ST. NICHOLAS by  New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas

To escape her stepmother’s plot to marry her off, Texas heiress Jacqueline Hartman spends Christmas Eve sharing a hideout with an accused bank robber. After a night in Nathaniel Ward’s arms, Jacqueline is certain she has met her match after all. But will his heartfelt promise of love lead to his demise at the hands of the law? 

BIRDIE’S FLIGHT by Celia Bonaduce 

Seamstress Birdie Flanagan gets the surprise of her life when she receives a beautiful gown—and a sudden invitation—for the ball of the season! Birdie creates a stir from the moment she arrives, capturing the eye of the dashing Captain Douglas Fairbanks. But will a secret from her past keep her from her long-awaited happily-ever-after? 

SPIRIT OF TEXAS by  Rachael Miles 

When lovely spinster Eugenie Charpentier makes a trip across the Texas frontier with former Texas Ranger Asher Graham, she dreams of an adventure, and the rough-and-tumble cowboy is happy to oblige. But both Eugenie and the rugged lawman are keeping secrets. Can they find each other—and love—on the dance floor at the Christmas ball?

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I have to admit, I usually don’t like those love at first sight sort of stories, but I really enjoyed One Night at the St. Nicholas by Jodi Thomas. It’s the perfect kind of story to read this winter. To curl up with a blanket, drink some hot cocoa, and read next to a fire on a cold night. I really enjoyed the way Thomas sets up the stage for these characters. Cody is heading to a party to propose to a Jacqueline, a girl he has never met, while Nate has escaped the marshal’s clutches and is using the party to hide from the law. Meanwhile, Katie wears the dress that Jacqueline is supposed to wear, thus mixing and matching the couples and creating a lively story. Cody sees Katie and thinks it’s the girl he came to propose to, mean while Jacqueline heads to her hiding spot only to find Nate there hiding. It really is the perfect kind of love story for both couples. 

Birdie’s Flight by Celia Bonaduce had the perfect blend Christmas love and a dash of mystery. I enjoyed following Birdie’s story of finding work at the St. Nicholas and her love story with Captain Newcastle. There’s shameless flirting, there’s a handsome, swoon worthy captain, and a Christmas Ball. Plus the mystery of finding out why Birdie is on the run! Definitely some Christmas magic worth enjoying! 

Spirit of Texas by Rachael Miles is about the journey that Eugenie takes. She leaves her home from England and embarks on a journey that takes her all the way to Texas. I always enjoy books that have a destination in mind, and this book was very enjoyable! Eugenie is a bit of a spinster, middle aged, and unmarried. And also untrusting of men. Her path leads her to Asher though and there are many obstacles that they must overcome together that forces them to get to know each other and depend on each other. I also enjoyed the glimpses we get of the St. Nicholas staff while Lily, Eugenie’s mother, is staying there. 

Obviously this St. Nicholas hotel is quite enchanting! I wouldn’t mind booking my weekend there! All three stories are very enjoyable Christmas love story reads. All the characters are charming and could definitely be put a full novel and be a wonderful read. I will definitely be checking out these authors in the future and looking for more of their heart warming love stories!

Rating: 4/5


Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and her historical anthology, A Texas Kind of Christmas (Nov. 2019). The first book in her new series with Kensington, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café, comes out May 2020. 

Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online www.CeliaBonaduce.com.



Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at www.RachaelMiles.com.
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Longing for a Cowboy Christmas: Author Spotlight and Excerpt

LONGING FOR
A COWBOY CHRISTMAS
with stories by
ROSANNE BITTNER, LINDA BRODAY, MARGARET BROWNLEY, AMY SANDAS, LEIGH GREENWOOD, ANNA SCHMIDT

  Genre: Romance Anthology / Western / Historical Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Date of Publication: September 24, 2019 Number of Pages: 528



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Find your very own cowboy to keep warm these long, wintry nights as you cozy up with six sweeping, epic tales of heroism, passion, family and celebration from bestselling authors Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, and Amy Sandas.


Fall in Love with Christmas

Whether it’s a widower finding an unexpected new start, a former outlaw and his new wife welcoming their very own Christmas miracle, a long-lost lover returning just in time for a special holiday celebration, a second chance at love between two warring hearts given peace at last, an unlikely pair working together to bring joy to a small Texas town, or a cowboy and his dark-eyed beauty snowed in one unforgettable wintry eve…every Christmas with a cowboy is filled with light, laughter, and a forever kind of love.



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PRAISE FOR LONGING FOR A COWBOY CHRISTMAS: 
“Greenwood is a master at westerns.” ―RT Book Reviews for Leigh Greenwood

“An emotional powerhouse! This classic historical western is destined for the “keeper” shelf.” ―RT Book ReviewsTop Pick for Rosanne Bittner

“Fun and sensual…great for fans of history, romance, and some good old Texas grit.” ―Kirkus for Linda Broday

“A great story by a wonderful author.”―#1 New York Times bestselling author DEBBIE MACOMBER for Margaret Brownley

“The perfect read.” ―RT Book Reviews for Anna Schmidt

“A genuine page-turner…electric and absorbing.” ―Kirkus for Amy Sandas




AMY SANDAS
AUTHOR OF THROUGH THE STORM
Included in Longing for a Cowboy Christmas Anthology



THE AUTHOR:  

Amy writes historical romance about dashing, and sometimes dangerous, men who know just how to get what they want and women who at times may be reckless, bold, and unconventional, but who always have the courage to embrace all that life and love have to offer.

About Through the Storm:

Though raised in seclusion, Lucy Jones is more than capable of taking care of herself. But when she offers shelter to a handsome outlaw stranded in a winter storm, the Scotsman’s flirtatious manner and smoldering glances spark an unexpected longing.

The outlaw known as Gentleman George for his fine British manners doesn’t know what to make of the intriguing woman living in seclusion high in the mountains. He only knows that he craves her smiles, dreams of her touch, and trusts her enough to share the truth of his shameful past.

In the midst of a Wyoming blizzard, can a charming outlaw melt the heart of a reclusive mountain woman and claim a love worth holding onto? 



EXCERPT FROM THROUGH THE STORM

Warmth.
It enveloped him as soon as the door closed behind him. For a moment he noticed nothing about the cabin interior beyond the healthy fire blazing in a stone fireplace that took up half of the wall opposite where he stood. He kicked off his boots near the door, then crossed the small cabin to get nearer to the roaring heat of the fire.
He’d never been so cold in his life. Even the couple winters he’d spent in northern Scotland couldn’t compare. Back home, he’d preferred to enjoy the colder months tucked safely in the comfort of his Lowland manor with a brandy in his hand or a warm woman in his bed.
Standing as close to the fire as he could get without crawling into it, he took a look around.
The cabin was comprised of a single room with a loft built in the rafters above and a ladder for access. The windows had been tightly shuttered, and the only light was created by the fire itself, but it was enough to see that the place was very sparsely furnished with only two overstuffed chairs set before the fire with a small table between. Cupboards lined the wall on either side of the door, and a little, black iron stove nestled in one corner. An enormous bear pelt was nailed to one wall, and the space beneath the loft held a couple trunks and some shelves that were overflowing with books.
The books surprised him, and he almost wandered over to see what sort of reading material he’d find in this rustic little mountain cabin. Before he could do so, the front door opened. The woman who’d likely saved him from being buried alive in the snow secured the door with a cross board and propped her rifle beside it before turning around and pushing her hood back.
Warm, dark eyes, thick black lashes, broad bone structure, and a lush, generous mouth.
Though his teeth still chattered and his hands and feet were beginning to ache as they thawed, George was amazed to discover that his blood was still capable of rushing quick and hot through his veins with the right inspiration.
And the woman wrapped in all those furs was stunning.
When she caught sight of him standing before the fire, her straight black brows furrowed over her coffee-colored gaze. “Why are you still dressed?”
The flames inside him leaped in reaction to her husky tone, not to mention the very suggestive words. But he quickly stomped them down. Though a man could surely hope, it was unlikely she’d meant the words in the way his suddenly unruly libido interpreted.
“Pardon,” he said with lifted brows.
“Strip down,” she ordered. “Once the snow on your clothes starts melting, you’re not only going to be freezing cold, you’re going to be wet and freezing cold. And I sure as hell am not going to nurse you though an illness.”
She removed her coat and hung it on a hook next to the door. Underneath it, she wore a flannel button-down shirt tucked into buckskin breeches with a hunting knife strapped high on her thigh. Her thick, black hair was tied back at her nape and brushed the small of her back as she turned to face him.
Her expression furrowed as she noted that he hadn’t moved to do as she said. Propping her hands on her hips, she repeated sharply, “Clothes off. Now.”


Coming October 29, 2019, The Outlaw’s Heart, book three in the
Runaway Brides series





Blog Tour Participating Authors (L to R): Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Amy Sandas

Rosanne Bittner: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Blog * Amazon Linda Broday: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Pinterest * BookBub * Amazon 
Margaret Brownley: Website * Facebook  * Twitter * Goodreads * Amazon
Leigh Greenwood: Website * Goodreads
Amy Sandas: Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads * Instagram * Amazon
Anna Schmidt: Website * Pinterest&nbsp* Goodreads
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Logan’s Lady, Cowboy Charm School + $25 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: Copies of:  LFACC, The Cowboy’s Honor, Logan’s Lady + $25 Amazon Gift Card
3rd Prize: Copies of: LFACC, Logan’s Lady
October 15-October 25, 2019 
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10/16/19
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10/18/19
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Journey of the Pale Bear: Review

JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR

By SUSAN FLETCHER

Middle Grade / Medieval Historical Fiction

(grades 3-7)

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Date of Publication: October 2, 2018

Paperback: October 1, 2019

Number of Pages: 302

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A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family.

The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.

Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?

Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.

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 ACCOLADES AND PRAISE FOR

JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR:

Honor Book, Golden Kite Awards, 2019
Vermont’s 2019-2020 Dorothy Canfield Fisher list
2020 Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Children’s Masterlist
School Library Connection highly recommended book
Junior Library Guild Selection
50 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books for Kids, bookriot.com


“…a stupendous coming-of-age-tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions… A richly satisfying story saturated with color, adventure, and heart.” –Kirkus, starred review

“I simply adore this novel. It has it all: gorgeous prose, fascinating history, riveting adventure. But it’s the unlikely tender friendship between a lonely boy and a polar bear that makes this a story to cherish. A lovely little miracle of a book.” 

–Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan

“I loved every single thing about this large-hearted and riveting medieval adventure.” —William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

I have a bundle of emotions after reading Journey of the Pale Bear. It stands to reason that we know what end comes for Arthur and the bear. The very first chapter takes place in the future after all.

But how it ends beyond this short moment is more.

Arthur has run away from home and his loving mother to chase a dream. Feeling like a burden and unwanted, a letter from his home country gives him hope for more. However, in the harsh world and after desperate actions, he is employed to accompany a bear to the King of England. The journey and task aren’t tempting to Arthur except for the promise to make it to Wales. Arthur’s motives seem clouded with the memories of his father and the future he could have had. However, the home he chases and the path he goes down to make it there, will change him forever.

I was reminded a bit of Miyazaki’s films. I watched them growing up and as most of them are ‘coming of age’ films, there were similarities between the fantastical and real. There’s a sadness and happiness to all the films and also in this book. They can’t exist without the other, some say. The same can be said for safety and sacrifice. Surviving is to living as safety is to freedom. Arthur’s choices switch between these throughout his journey. Though he is still quite young, his abilities shape not only his fate but that of the crew and many more. Though he may not see it that way.

Beyond the kinship that Arthur develops with our pale bear, there are subtle changes to his relationships with other people as well. The doctor in charge of the bear is shrouded in his own hidden motives and tragedy. As the story develops, Arthur may grow to open his heart and trust to those around him.

This was a stunning fictional take on history that shined with memorable lines and imagery. While the writing could be melancholy, what truly captured my interest was the relationships found and fought for.

Do you ever wish you’d read a book years ago? This book is only a year old but I wonder what young me in middle school or even high school would have thought. How different my reading habits and moods would have been if books like these were assigned instead! It was after reading Journey of the Pale Bear, that I had to truly think through my experiences reading this. Most reviews, I can write within the day. However, here I found myself torn and deleting entire paragraphs so I could do it justice. This book is thoughtful and open to giving its reader many meanings. The writing can shift from a harsh reality to the nuances in old lore and fantasy. Mostly, I just felt so taken with this story of a boy and his bear. Like I was given a gift and already throwing into my mom’s hands for her to read, desperate to discuss her point of view.

I’d like to thank Susan Fletcher and Lone Star Book Tours for the amazing opportunity to read (and reread) this book. It was heartwarming from start to finish.

 Although Susan loves to write about long-ago and faraway places, she can’t bring those worlds to life without grounding them in the details of this one. To that end, she has explored lava tubes and sea caves; spent the night in a lighthouse; traveled along the Silk Road in Iran; ridden in a glider, on a camel, and on a donkey; and cut up (already dead!) baby chicks and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner. To research Journey of the Pale Bear, she explored the grounds of the Tower of London and went backstage at the Oregon Zoo, where, standing breathtakingly near, she watched polar bears Tasul and Conrad lip grapes from their keepers’ open palms.

 Journey of the Pale Bear is Susan’s 12th book, including the Dragon Chronicles series, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books.

Susan has an M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. She lives in Bryan, Texas with her husband, historian R.J.Q. Adams, and their dog, Neville.

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Paranormal Texas: Review

PARANORMAL TEXAS

Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places

Near Dallas & Fort Worth

2ND EDITION

By TUI SNIDER

  Genre: Travel / Haunted Places / Texas History

Publisher: Castle Azle Press

Date of Publication: September 19, 2019

Number of Pages: 210 with 100+ black & white images

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 More Haunted Places and True Ghost Stories!

Tui Snider’s popular travel guide to haunted places in North Texas is back with a fully updated 2nd Edition featuring more haunted places and true ghost stories!

What’s new in Paranormal Texas2nd Edition?

Just like the original travel guide, Paranormal Texas 2nd Edition gives readers haunted history and directions to sites where paranormal activity is reported in the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex.

The 2nd edition now includes:

• Photos: Readers asked for photos of haunted places. Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition has over 50 photos of haunted towns, haunted hotels, and more.

• Ghost hunting tips: Tui Snider explains what she has learned since she began attending paranormal investigations with Texas ghost hunters.

• More haunted places: Several new venues (including a haunted doll museum!) with fascinating haunted history were added to Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.

• Firsthand accounts: Readers asked for more true ghost stories and hauntings. (She even shares personal experiences with paranormal activity, including a strange encounter with her doppelganger at a haunted hotel!)

All the above, PLUS a paranormal activity evidence database:

See the paranormal activity for yourself: Readers can access an online database with links to EVPs, ghost photos, videos, and other evidence gathered by paranormal investigators who have visited the haunted sites in her book.

Continually updated: This database will be continually updated with EVPs, anomalous photos, videos, and other data gathered at haunted places featured in Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition.

Add your paranormal activity: Readers can contact the author if they have paranormal evidence to add!

Is Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition for YOU?

1. Ghost Hunters – If you want to plan a fun road trip to haunted places (with or without ghost hunting equipment) Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can help.

2. Armchair Travelers – If you prefer reading about haunted history, Paranormal Texas, 2nd edition can take you on an exciting armchair tour through haunted towns of North Texas.

“Tui’s 2nd edition is spot on fun and thrilling for everyone to read as only Tui can tell it!”  – Greg Stephens, Paranormal Investigator (RIP)

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5 Surprising Facts about Haunted Places in Paranormal Texas

I’ve had my experience with the unexplained and unusual occurrence. However, this book will open up a whole new world. A mesh of history meets lore. Spooky and out-worldly events that even a skeptic can appreciate. (Sorry, I had to put spooky in there at least once.)

I’ll start with why this book interested me and my own paranormal but funny history. To this day, my mother (and family) talk about their old house in Galveston which just so happened to be haunted. The house was originally built by a ship captain who put parts of his ship in the construction and had amazing glass etched of his ship and wife. When my mother and her family lived there, it became pretty clear that the strange sounds, odd awakenings in the night, even eyes seen in the darkness were shared among them all. Flash forward, I took a trip to this house with the pretext of it being a history project and interest in a picture of the glass etchings. As my mother shared happy memories of her childhood, the woman who lived there couldn’t help but ask if she noticed anything interesting or odd about the house. We may have made a hasty retreat after that.

I suppose I couldn’t help but share a quick story after reading Snider’s book. It often felt like I was sitting by a campfire, sharing ghost stories with the Author. In fact, I actually did read this book entirely at night. Did I do this on purpose? No…but it was a happy coincidence.

It was easy to feel the excitement while reading. The ooh’s and ahh’s as page per page revealed interesting facts about Texas I never knew and the ties that bind it to the paranormal. So what makes this book different? I’m sure everyone has seen at least one episode of ghost hunters, been on a ghost tour, maybe even read a book. However, Paranormal Texas is filled with an energy in the writing. The excitement and respect towards this subject leaps across each page. The locations unknown were now open for discovery and places known could be seen again with new eyes.

Tui Snider did an excellent job at writing the cusp of an experience and a welcome invitation to go on your own. Consider this your challenge to visit a paranormal location and don’t forget your copy of Paranormal Texas: Your Travel Guide to Haunted Places Near Dallas & Fort Worth!

 Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, 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.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel.

Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TVCoast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman WakingShades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

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 October 1-October 11, 2019

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YAZZY’S AMAZING YARN: Sneak Peak & Review

YAZZY’S AMAZING YARN

By CATHEY GRAHAM NICKELL

Illustrated by Emily Calimlim

  Genre: Children’s Picture Book, Ages 4-8 

Publisher: Twenty-Eight Creative

Date of Publication: August 1, 2019

Number of Pages: 32

Scroll down for giveaway!

Yazzy is a creative girl, always sketching out her next adventure. She loves yarn, and she loves to knit! Her neighborhood park is dull and rusty, but Yazzy has a grand plan. 

With a little help from her friends, Yazzy’s knitted wonders transform Penny Park into a fuzzy rainbow of warmth and color. What yarn-tastic idea will Yazzy think of next? 

The book includes a “History of Yarn Bombing” page for readers who are not familiar with this creative and whimsical type of art.

“As a teacher, it’s refreshing to find a book that exposes children to an alternative art form. I’m inspired by Yazzy’s story, and I know my students will be, too.” — Deborah Horwitz, Art Teacher, The Emery/Weiner School, Houston, Texas.

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SNEAK PEEK AT

YAZZY’S AMAZING YARN

BY CATHEY GRAHAM NICKELL

Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn is such a classic. I love the story and it’s wonderful appreciation of art. Yazzy learned knitting from her mother and her love for it is shared with her friends and soon the neighborhood. She is inspired to knit colorful additions to the local weathered park and brings everyone together. 


I had never heard of yarn bombing and was eager to look up real life occurrences. This hilarious and creative outlet is right up my alley. I’m officially inspired to take out the big bucket of yarn I’ve been avoiding. 


The illustrations in the book are fantastic. I read this on my iPad and basically spent each page zooming in and marveling at the detail and use of color. It reminded me of the art style from ‘If you give a mouse a cookie’, which was my favorite growing up. The expressions on some of the faces were enough to make me love this book. I honestly laughed out loud at one girls face as she learned knitting. It is definitely how I look every time I knit. Seriously, buy or enter the giveaway for this book, and enjoy page eight. You won’t regret it. 


Five stars for this fun and creative story! 

Cathey Nickell is a busy author and elementary school speaker, having presented at more than seventy schools to date. Yazzy’s Amazing Yarn is her second children’s book about creativity and outside-the-box artistic endeavors. She is also the author of Arthur Zarr’s Amazing Art Car, which was awarded first place by the Texas Association of Authors in the category of Children’s Picture Books-All Ages. Cathey lives with her husband, Kevin, in Houston, where they raised their four children.

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Emily Calimlim, while not a knitting whiz herself, loves creating art with humorous and lively watercolor pictures for children. She lives in Houston with her fiancé, George, and silly studio bird, Simon. Emily spends her days capturing her ideas and imagination with paint and pencil.

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8/30/19Sneak PeekThe Page Unbound
8/31/19Deleted SceneStory Schmoozing Book Reviews
9/1/19ReviewChapter Break Book Blog
9/2/19ExcerptBooks and Broomsticks
9/3/19Sneak PeekRainy Days with Amanda
9/4/19ReviewAll the Ups and Downs
9/5/19ReviewMissus Gonzo

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Vortex: Excerpt

VORTEX
by
KIMBERLY PACKARD
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological
Publisher: Abalos Publishing
Publication Date: January 31, 2019

Number of Pages: 308 pages
SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Constant spinning, round and round and round, temperatures rise and fall from stifling heat to chilling cold, emotions run high in anticipation of what will happen next… there’s a fine line between surviving a tornado and falling in love.

A close encounter with a tornado, during the final months of her doctoral studies, jogs a lost memory to the surface. Desperate to relive the vision and find answers, storm chaser Elaina Adams continually puts her safety at risk by placing herself in the path of dangerous storms.

When betrayal strikes, Elaina is forced to pair up with Robert Tucker. “Tuck” owns a storm chasing tour group and only cares about two things: chasing tornadoes and making his next buck.

Seth Maddux was climbing his way to the top as the star meteorologist for the Forecast channel, but an embarrassing outburst on camera sent his career on a downward spiral. Hoping to reignite his career with a promising field assignment, he meets Elaina and a different kind of flame sparks.

Family secrets surface and passions explode in this twister of a tale.

Vortex is a story of family, love, identity and determination set against the thrilling backdrop of Tornado Alley. 

CLICK TO PURCHASE THE BOOK

PRAISE FOR VORTEX:

“Set in the heart of America’s Tornado Alley, Kimberly Packard’s latest psychological fiction swirls with discovery and betrayal. VORTEX may make you question who among those closest to you are really your friends.” — Addison Brae, author of Becker Circle

“Vortex is a fast-paced story with a strong woman at its center. Readers will be in for a wild ride full of secrets, the labyrinth of memory, and the spark of romance. Definitely one to add to your reading list.” — Christine Brodersenauthor of Lip Gloss, Shame and Murdered Tomatoes 

“Kimberly Packard is an accomplished author who writes strong women characters. She blew me away with her Phoenix series (three books you don’t want to miss) and now in Vortex, we meet Elaina Adams, who, like all of us, struggles with her past, her career, and her family secrets. Action, and emotion-packed, this page-turner is a different kind of love story.” — Vanessa Foster, author of More than Everything 

EXCERPT FROM VORTEX

BY KIMBERLY PACKARD

She looked up at the approaching tornado behind her. The tree in front of her was too big to move. The storm moved off the road, but danced dangerously close as it passed to her left. 

Out of the car, Elaina. You have to get low, in the ditch. 

“Elaina? Talk to me.”

“Heath, listen to me. Stay where you are until it passes.” It took every bit of self-control to not let her words tremble. If Nim heard any fear, he’d burst through the car window for her. “I’m taking cover.”

Elaina dropped the radio and pushed against the car door, but it wouldn’t budge. Ignoring Heath’s frantic shouts, she scooted to the passenger seat, nearly falling face down when the door opened without protest. She scrambled to the ditch, lying on her stomach and covering her head. 

The pressure of the storm made her ears pop, and her skin stung as pea-sized hail pummeled her. 

When the shaking of the ground beneath her lessened slightly, she lifted her head to gaze at the funnel cloud moving away from her. Elaina pushed herself up to her knees to watch, not having been this close to a tornado since… 

Debris shifted above her, forcing her deeper into the little cubby she’d made around herself. Dirty water poured down on her head as something was overturned. She buried her face into her hands, crying out as the water stung her eyes. The movement stopped, but it was only a brief respite, as shouts filled the air and metal on metal scraped above her. A burst of light blinded her before the shape of a head blocked it. 

“It’s okay, sweetheart. I found you. You’re safe now,” a soothing, yet unfamiliar male voice spoke to her. 

“Elaina?” 

She blinked at her name. The field in front of her was empty, a single beam of sunlight lit the spot where she’d last seen the twister. A yellow body flashed in front of her as Nim ran around the side of the van, barking first out of fear but then with the high-pitched happy yip of a dog just finding his owner. 

“Elaina, are you okay?” Heath touched her shoulder, reminding her to breathe. 

She hadn’t been this close to a tornado since the day she’d been found.

Kimberly Packard is an award-winning author of edgy women’s fiction. She began visiting her spot on the shelves at libraries and bookstores at a young age, gazing between the Os and the Qs.

 
When she isn’t writing, she can be found running, doing a poor imitation of yoga or curled up with a book. She resides in Texas with her husband Colby, a clever cat named Oliver and a yellow lab named Charlie.

 
Her debut novel, Phoenix, was awarded as Best General Fiction of 2013 by the Texas Association of Authors. She is also the author of a Christmas novella, The Crazy Yates, and the sequels to PhoenixPardon Falls and Prospera Pass

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Covey Jencks: Excerpt and Giveaway

COVEY JENCKS
by
SHELTON L. WILLIAMS
Narrated by Kathy James
Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Publication Date: February 10, 2018
Number of Pages: 229 pages
Audio Book Length: 6 hours, 38 minutesSCROLL DOWN FOR THE GIVEAWAY! 

Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey, and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 
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PRAISE FOR COVEY JENCKS:
 
Williams seamlessly braids a murder mystery with a love story and a drama about the pervasiveness of racism in the South… The author’s prose is buoyantly eccentric, both insightful and self-effacingly humorous. And the clues Covey and JayJay track down are meted out to readers with impressive judiciousness: The author never prematurely surrenders so much information that the conclusion is rendered foregone while the tale’s swift pace prevents it from becoming tedious. An engrossing crime drama that’s both entertaining and provocative. — Kirkus Indie

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 68 OF
COVEY JENCKS
BY SHELTON WILLIAMS

(JayJay speaking)

Freddie said it best. “Men always leave.” They die. They take off for younger women. They get run out of town. They turn to drink. Best to stay away, keep uninvolved. Black or white, it doesn’t matter. At an early age, I made a pledge to myself: Never again will I get married. Never again will I depend on a man.

So, how did this happen? How did I end up not only loving this guy but trusting his judgment about life and death? All my instincts say to be cautious, protect myself, but all my thoughts turn to how to protect us against killers and racists. “The course of true love never did run smooth,” Shakespeare said. If we die, maybe our story will inspire a play or at least a country and western song.

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

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My first part time job while I was in high school was announcing at the local radio station, and I had fun being “on the air” and using my sarcastic sense of humor.  I worked in the radio business for more than twenty years. My favorite pastimes are teaching figure skating, getting lost in a great book, and watching movies.  I narrate and produce audio books in my home studio, and I truly enjoy bringing an author’s characters to life with an audio book. I currently reside in Minnesota with my slightly overweight cat and two childlike golden retrievers.  
 
 
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The Encouragement Letters: Author Video

THE ENCOURAGEMENT
LETTERS
by
SHANNA SPENCE
Sub-genre: Middle Grade / Historical Fiction
Publisher: Book Liftoff
Date of Publication: November 22, 2017
Number of Pages: 180
Scroll down for the giveaway! 
WILLIAM CROMWELL, at age eleven, knew what it was like living with new changes. In 1865, Manchester, England a new textile factory moved into town and after a tragedy that befell him and his mum, they struggled to live. With so many things going on in his young life he wanted to be the encouragement that his father was to him.
As everything changes along with terrible hardships, just maybe the hope he gives to the growing town will find its way to Will…
PRAISE FOR THE ENCOURAGEMENT LETTERS: 
This was such an uplifting wholesome book! It was so nice to read something positive about a time when people were so willing to step in and help someone in need without expecting anything in return! I couldn’t put it down!– 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

Excellent read!! This story speaks to people in all walks of life. It is encouraging, sweet, and funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone needing to see what it means to “treat others as you want to be treated.” — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A very inspiring book from a great new author! — 5 Stars, Kindle verified purchase reviewer

A charming tale of a simpler time. Yet, the message is ageless. I congratulate Ms. Spence on this her first effort and look forward to more entertaining reads from her in the future.— 5 Stars, Kindle reviewer

 

 

Author Deborah Chelette-Wilson interviews debut author Shanna Spence

Shanna Spence is a wife, mother, and registered nurse of over twenty years. She has written poetry since the age of thirteen and always dreamed of writing books. Raised in a small East Texas town, she pursued a career of nursing in Dallas, Texas but eventually went back to East Texas to settle down and raise a family.

Now she finally has found the time to fulfill her dream of writing stories that will hopefully bring out the imagination in others — as well as inspiration. She is currently living in Longview, Texas. 
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Old Buildings in North Texas: Guest Post

OLD BUILDINGS
IN NORTH TEXAS
by
JEN WALDO
Sub-genre: Literary Fiction / Dramedy
Publisher: Arcadia Books
Date of Publication: April 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 213
Scroll down for the giveaway! 
After rehab, Olivia, a 32-year-old cocaine addict, is required to move back in with her mother and pregnant sister. Having left a promising career in journalism in New York, she’s now working as a sales assistant for a family friend in her home town in North Texas.

Under pressure from her court-mandated counselor – an old high school friend – to take up a hobby, Olivia decides on “urbexing.” Soon she’s breaking into derelict homes, ex-prisons, and old drive-ins across North Texas, and it’s not long before she’s looting state property and making money off the possessions, fixtures, and fittings that have been left behind.

Old Buildings in North Texas is about a modern woman’s search for personal equilibrium and wild adventure — the attempt to find stability in existence without losing sight of what makes life worth living. Jen Waldo’s style modulates effortlessly from domestic nuance to taut adventure, tackling social and moral transgressions with incisive observation and vivid humor.

PRAISE FOR OLD BUILDINGS IN NORTH TEXAS

 

“A lot of Jen Waldo’s debut novel takes place out on the porch of Olivia’s mother’s house. […] With its casual, confidential tone, Old Buildings in North Texas puts the reader in one of those porch chairs, reclining on a warm evening with a cool drink.” — The Skinny
Old Buildings in North Texas is an amusingly written and well worked book” — Trip Fiction
“This novel is an absolute blast. There are serious moments of course, but Jen Waldo looks for the comedy in everything to create a memorable scenario that reminded me very much of the style of Six Feet Under.” — Shiny New Books

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

 

Why I Don’t Like Amarillo, but Write About it Anyway

By Jen Waldo

We had some brilliant minds in our Amarillo High School graduating class, young men and women who moved to distant places and made prodigious differences in the world. An astronaut, doctors, lawyers, Ivy League professors, artists, authors, entrepreneurs, and gifted musicians. I often think about the kids I went to high school with, and I’m amazed by how so many great and successful people came out of that arid windy town where ideas are aborted immediately after conception.

I know no one who lives there now.

Because my novel, Old Buildings in North Texas, has recently been released here in the US, I’m concentrating on publicizing it. This is progressing here in the same way it did when the book was released in the UK, which means a publicist has arranged guest postings on blogs and reviews to go in newspapers and magazines throughout the country.

As my books are published internationally and set in fictional Caprock, which is based on Amarillo, you’d think people in my hometown would be interested or, at the very least, curious. But I contacted the editor of the Amarillo Globe News two weeks ago, attaching a press release to communicate that this is a legitimate book published by an award-winning literary publisher. I haven’t heard back from him. This excerpt from one of the posts I did for a British blog will explain why I’m not at all surprised:

Having lived in seven countries over a thirty-year period, I’m often asked why I place my novels in a stark dry town in Northwest Texas. It’s because it’s the location I know best. Though the ex-pat life is enlightening, I don’t have other cultures in my bones the way I do Amarillo. I’ll point out that I say bones rather than heart. I hardly love the place. But its vernacular is mine and I comprehend on an intrinsic level the mindset of the people, who are stubborn, religious, big-hearted, abhorrent toward change, and suspicious of success.

In Amarillo, liberals are appreciated in the same way children are; they’re expected to keep their volume down and not touch anything. And, while outwardly the city appreciates the arts, it’s understood that any artist will be out of favor if he or she steps too far outside conventional societal boundaries. Also, if some performer or scientist shows outstanding talent or ability, well, Amarillo as a whole wishes they’d take their genius elsewhere.

And though the population makes an effort to move forward, when it comes to cultural trends and economic development, they somehow manage to always be several years behind the rest of the country.

Reading this a year after I wrote it, I realize that this is a biased and negative view. For the most part, Amarillo is composed of good people going about their daily business. Mainly what I remember from my years there is that the hands of the clock never seemed to move and nothing ever changed.

Here’s another disparaging excerpt, this one in the voice of Olivia from OBiNT:

In Dallas I worked as the regulars’ editor for Dallas Flair, a local fashion magazine. It was my dream career, a grand life in the making.  Here in Caprock, with my background (and I am impressive—BA in English from Rice, MA in Journalism from Columbia, magna cum laude in both) I should’ve been able to get a job on the newspaper, the Caprock Chronicle, which, as far as I can tell, is none too choosy. And there’s a local magazine here, too, that I’m well-suited for. Called Caprock Comfort, it has more to do with home decorating than fashion, but still, it’s work I could do, a theme I could get behind. I like comfort as much as the next person.    

Oddly, the reason I’m not working for one of these publications isn’t because I’m an addict or that I’m unqualified. It’s because I left the area. 

“Tech not good enough for you?” asked Stanley Mason, editor of the Caprock Chronicle.  “Most of our staff went to Tech. Or Pan UT.”  Located two hours to the south, Texas Tech is as far as most people from Caprock go for their higher education. And Pan UT, the panhandle branch of the University of Texas system, is even closer—half an hour to the southwest, in Gorman. 

“Columbia? Isn’t that in New York?” asked Susan Riley, editor of Caprock Comfort. “Why’d you go way up there? That must have been horrible.”

As most ex-pats know, family and friends from home don’t want to hear about experiences from the outside world. They’re happy to see you, but they lack curiosity and are caught up in their own lives. This conversation between Olivia and her therapist offers another reason why someone from Amarillo might not want to read OBiNT:

“Tell me about living in New York.” Jane dons an interested expression. 

“It’s busy,” I say, happy to comply. “There’s always something to do.  You can take a short subway ride and end up in a completely different neighborhood where they speak Chinese or Russian or Arabic or Portuguese. And the way people dress is fascinating—all the cultures shown in fabrics and designs right there on their backs, and you can see how one style influences another. And everybody walks. People are out and moving, not getting from place to place in their solitary cars.”

Her eyes have glazed over, which makes me stop talking. The prospect of a world beyond Caprock has rendered her catatonic. It takes her a few seconds to realize I’ve gone silent.

My treatment of Amarillo in my novels is hardly kind. I suppose it’s understandable that no one at the Amarillo Globe News would care to read a book that denigrates the town and its people. On the other hand, why wouldn’t they want to read it? If there’s anything folks in Amarillo enjoy, it’s becoming indignant and holding a grudge.

My novels do offer some positive things about my hometown. At times I grow nostalgic when writing of the flat hard land and the shadows of the gnarled mesquite, the fierce wind and the blue, blue sky. Also the dialect has always pleased me—the fixin‘ tos and the ya’lls and the gunnawunnas (as in You’re gunnawunna take care of that).

And the people also possess two of my favorite qualities: a sense of humor and a lack of pretention; after all, it looks like they named their new baseball team the Sod Poodles. 

 

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

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100 Things to Do in DFW Before You Die: Guest Post

100 THINGS TO DO IN DALLAS FORT WORTH BEFORE YOU DIE

2ND EDITION

By Tui Snider

 Genre: Non-Fiction / Texas Travel

Publisher: Reedy Press   Twitter     Facebook

Date of Publication: September 15, 2018

Number of Pages: 160 with black & white images

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Have you ever drawn a blank when a friend or family member asks, “What do you want to do today?” Maybe you have visitors to show around the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex, or perhaps you’ve lived here for years but feel like you’re in a rut rather than experiencing anything new.

If so, Tui Snider’s new book is for you! If you live in, or are visiting, the DFW region, this list will inspire you to start exploring. If you’re hungry, flip through the Food & Drink section. Looking for entertainment or want to get outdoors? Dig into the Music & Entertainment or the Sports & Recreation sections. Want to barter for antiques or see a museum? Check out the Culture & History or the Shopping & Fashion sections.

This book is a playful bucket list of suggestions meant to spark ideas: everything from family outings, date nights, and solo excursions, to simply hanging out with friends on your day off.

North Texas Favorites? How about My Scarborough Renaissance Fair Wedding!

By Tui Snider

Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, TX (c) Tui Snider

Every time I write a travel book, readers inevitably ask which place is my favorite. It’s a fun question to consider but answering is never easy. However, when it comes to my latest book, 100 Things to Do in Dallas – Fort Worth Before You Die, I must admit that the Scarborough Renaissance Festival (SRF) has a special place in my heart. Why? Because I got married there in 2011!

The Scarborough Renaissance Festival takes place on 35 acres of beautifully wooded land about a half hour’s journey south of the Dallas – Fort Worth Metroplex on the outskirts of the town of Waxahachie.

Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, TX (c) Tui Snider

This lively Texas Renaissance festival has been a regional favorite since it first opened in 1981. Each weekend from early April through the end of May, the grounds come to life with a cast of costumed characters who have fun reenacting life in medieval times – the year 1533, to be precise.

Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII hold court, lead medieval dances, parades, and occasionally mingle with common folk like you and me. Special events occur each weekend, such as caber tossing, falconry, juggling, jousts and live music. 

Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, TX (c) Tui Snider

At the time we were planning our wedding, I was new to Texas and didn’t have any local friends to ask for advice. All my pals were thousands of miles away. Long story short: we got married at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas and it was wonderful. I highly recommend it.

Planning the wedding was a breeze because in addition to supplying a certified officiant to conduct the ceremony, SRF offers a baker, a florist, food, and – best of all – after we were hitched, we goofed around for the rest of the day. No clean up necessary!

My wedding at Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, TX (c) Tui Snider

As you can see, I dressed as a purple fairy. I considered many traditional Medieval maiden outfits, but – this is Texas, y’all! The day we were married, it was in the 90’s and humid, so I’m glad I opted for lighter clothing! I made the headdress, and am especially fond of the little bird because I’m an avid amateur birder. 

I’m so glad we got married at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. Not only was it fun, but we now have a built-in anniversary party every spring!

To find out more about the Scarborough Renaissance Festival:

2511 FM 66, Waxahachie srfestival.com 


 

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in hometown travel. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider’s work has been featured by a variety of outlets, including Coast to Coast AM, LifeHackeasyJet and Authentic Texas. Snider’s award-winning books include Unexpected Texas, Paranormal Texas, Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and more. Tui enjoys connecting with readers all over the globe through her WEBSITE.

  WEBSITE    FACEBOOK    TWITTER    AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE    INSTAGRAM  

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