A Moonbow Night: Review and Giveaway

A MOONBOW NIGHT
by
LAURA FRANTZ

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian
Publisher: Revell / Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: January 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 384

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After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It’s a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucky—men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew, looking for an experienced guide.

Though he balks when Tempe is appointed to lead his team through the wilderness, it isn’t long before Sion must admit that her abilities may outmatch his own. But can the tenuous tie they are forming survive the dangers waiting just around the bend?

With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons you to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream.

***
PRAISE FOR
A MOONBOW NIGHT:

 

“From the very first page, A Moonbow Night charmed me into its story, a story as earthy, rugged, and beguiling as the early American terrain upon which it has been laid. The book offers everything this reader wants: fidelity to history with rich, sensory details of time and place; names we’ve known fleetingly from the annals of the past who quicken on the page; fictional friends for whose happiness and romantic redemption we yearn. Tempe is a Kentucky heroine worth our time and heart’s investment—a waif on the outside, steel on the inside, kind in every situation. In Sion we find a hero worthy of the title, willing to grapple with his past to own his present and claim his lady. The plot is complex, tense, and layered and resolves in a most satisfying conclusion. This remarkable, elegantly written novel pulses with life and is a must-read for all who love historical romance.”

Sandra Byrd, author of A Lady in Disguise

A Moonbow Night captures the wilds of a young and unyielding American frontier with breathtaking action and Laura Frantz’s signature mastery in storytelling. The effortless merging of narrative with intelligent dialogue allows the spot-on historical research to shine. Sion’s understated valor is in perfect step with Tempe’s independence, making them a pairing that will keep readers turning pages and rooting for them to the end. This is an exquisite novel of love and loss, and a sweet reminder that even in an untamed world, the gentle grace of God heals all wounds.”
Kristy Cambron, author of The Illusionist’s Apprentice and the Hidden Masterpiece series

“As timeless as it is historical, A Moonbow Night is the shining embodiment of everything Laura Frantz does best, from her trademark attention to detail to the unfolding of rich and textured love in a setting no less complex. To read this novel is to take a journey along with the characters, inhabiting the story with all five senses. Truly, a book to savor and revisit.”

Jocelyn Green, award-winning author of The Mark of the King

 

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A Moonbow Night follows the story of Tempe, a server at an inn, and Sion, a surveyor looking for land. I’m often not a huge fan of pioneer stories, but this one caught my attention right from when I read the book summary and it didn’t disappoint. I absolutely loved both Tempe and Sion and I love how this story is told from both their points of view. I really enjoyed all the history. I honestly never thought about how people had to have gone out in the search for land, that it could have been a job, a way of income. I just figured the pioneers found a place to settle and settled. So surveyor was a new word for me, and it was exciting to learn something new. I enjoyed how well detailed A Moonbow Night was and the adventure it unfolded.The best part about this book is the characters. You can tell that Frantz spent a great deal of time developing these characters. They each have their own quirks and distinct personality! Sion was probably my favorite. He’s kind of quiet at times, like a man of few words. But he’s an observer and very calculating. By the end of the novel Sion will completely win your heart. Not to say I don’t love Tempe, she’s great too, perhaps a little bit on the fiery and fierce side, but she’s strong and determined.

The only thing I wished with this book was a little bit more of a love story. I mean, there is a love story, but it’s soft, on the side lines, and takes a back seat to the story. There’s plenty of history and adventure to capture anyone’s intrigue, but I felt like Sion and Temp had such good chemistry I was wanting more there between them. It was so subtle that I wasn’t as excited as I could have been for them. Now don’t kid me wrong, the love story was gentle and cute, but I was hoping for more of a love story that swept me off my feet. But the gentle and subtle love works well for this story. I don’t think the love story was meant to be the driving point of the book. I think the journey of these pioneers and what they went through was the beating heart of this book.

If you like history, pioneers, great characters, great story and a cute, subtle love then be sure to check out this book!


Laura Frantz is a Christy Award finalist and the author of several books, including The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, The Colonel’s Lady, The Mistress of Tall Acre, and the Ballantyne Legacy series. She lives and writes in a log cabin in the heart of Kentucky.



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Of Bulletins and Booze: Author Interview and Giveaway


OF BULLETINS

AND BOOZE
  A NEWSMAN’S STORY OF RECOVERY
by
Bob Horton

Genre: Journalism / Memoir

Date of Publication: March, 2017
Number of Pages: 284

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Bob Horton began his journalism career as a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Innate skill and good fortune took him from a modest Texas farm upbringing to Washington, DC, where he was thrown into the high-pressure world of the wire service, first as a correspondent for the Associated Press, and later for Reuters news agency. The stress was intense, but he found the rush to be intoxicating.
From his early days covering the Dallas murder trial of Jack Ruby, through three colorful decades as a newsman, Horton often found himself witnessing history in the making. He covered the Pentagon during the early days of the Vietnam War, was on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean awaiting Israel’s expected attack on Egypt, was witness to the Watergate burglary trial, and attended a Beverly Hills church service with then-President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.
The success Horton enjoyed as a journalist mostly hid the dark side of his career: a gradual descent into alcoholism. Of Bulletins and Booze candidly recounts the unforgettable moments of Horton’s career, as well as more than a few moments he would just as soon forget.


  

Author Interview with Bob Horton

 

How has being a Texan influenced your writing?

Being raised by and among plain-talking Texas farm folks left me inclined to express myself in a simple, sometimes quite blunt manner. Texans pride themselves in being independent and can be strongly opinionated. I tend to be that way as well, a trait that may be detected in my writing.

 

Where did your love of storytelling and reading come from?

Neither of my parents had a high school education. They grew up in the Depression and when work often disrupted schooling. I recall my mother reading stories aloud to help me nap. My father would come in from the fields for the noon meal and later read from the Bible as my brother and I lay listening on the floor. Relatives, especially my grandfathers and uncles, were lively talkers and story-tellers.

 

How long have you been writing?

All told, some 50 years of professional news writing. I began working part-time for a newspaper while a freshman in college. That led to careers spanning years with a second newspaper, two wire services, a news magazine, a syndicated news service, and a radio news operation.  Over the years I spent months of my spare time striving to write a decent novel (three completed but unpublished).

 

What kind(s) of writing do you do?

I’ve done all kinds, including the standard type of news at the local level, but also eventually high-level political, legislative, military, diplomatic …  I was a reporter in Washington, D.C. for almost a quarter-century; I covered the Pentagon, Congress, State Department, White House and various other federal departments and agencies.

 

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

Striving to avoid sentimentality. I had experienced intensely emotional moments and situations as a reporter but I wanted to describe those times with a goodly degree of aloofness. I also sought not to sound self-aggrandizing, even though I had to “drop names” in recounting a career which had me associating with  people of prominence. I was known to such people not by virtue of my personality or talent but because of my connection to major media outlets.

 

How does Of Bulletins and Booze relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?

This book is about recovery from an addiction. Adhering to the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous helped direct me into a life style focusing on total abstinence from alcohol. I had found that I could not do this alone; the program stressed my need for “a power greater than myself,” sometimes referred to as “a God of my understanding.”  While AA is not a religious program, there is strong emphasis on the need for an alcoholic to have a “spiritual awakening” about the reality and nature of his illness (the American Medical Association labels alcoholism as a disease). Decades ago, a doctor prominent in the field of alcoholic treatment wrote in the first publication of AA’s “big book” of recovery principles that he was convinced that chronic alcoholics could only be helped by a “psychic change.” AA members came to speak of this psychic change as a “God consciousness.” The principles underlying the twelve-step program have steadily nurtured my spiritual growth.


Bob Horton has been in the news business for more than fifty years. In 1966 he received the Top Reporting Performance Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and in 1968 he and an AP cohort were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for general coverage of the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Today he is a radio news anchor with shows in Lubbock and Victoria, Texas. He lives in Lubbock.

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Walking the Llano: Excerpt and Giveaway!

WALKING THE LLANO
  A TEXAS MEMOIR OF PLACE
by
Shelley Armitage

Genre: Eco-Memoir / Nature

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
Date of Publication: February 15, 2016
Number of Pages: 216
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When American explorers arrived in the Texas Panhandle, they dubbed the region the “Great American Desert.” Its rough terrain appeared flat, dry, uninhabitable. Later, cell phone towers, oil rigs, and wind turbines added to this stereotype. Yet in this lyrical ecomemoir, Shelley Armitage charts a unique rediscovery of an unknown land, a journey at once deeply personal and far-reaching in its exploration of the connections between memory, spirit, and place.
Armitage begins her walk by following the Middle Alamosa Creek thirty meandering miles from her family farm to the Canadian River. Growing up in the small llano town of Vega, Texas, she finds the act of walking inseparable from the act of listening and writing. “What does the land say to us?” she asks as she witnesses human alterations to the landscape—perhaps most catastrophic the drainage of the land’s most precious water source, the Ogallala Aquifer.
But the llano’s wonders persist: colorful mesas and canyons, vast flora and fauna, diverse wildlife. While meditating on the region’s history, Armitage recovers the voices of ancient, Native, and Hispano peoples as interwoven with her own: her father’s legacy, her mother’s decline, a brother’s love.  The llano holds not only the beauty of ecological surprises but a renewed kinship in a world ever-changing.
Reminiscent of the work of memoirists Terry Tempest Williams and John McPhee, Walking the Llano is a soaring testimony to the power of landscape to draw us into greater understanding of ourselves and deeper connection with the places we inhabit.

 

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 PRAISE FOR WALKING THE LLANO
Both an intensely lyrical and intimate scrapbook of familial history and a uniquely sublime travelogue of the American Southwestern landscape” A Starred review from Kirkus

 

 

“. . .an enticing mix of memoir, nature study and the hunting of ghosts. [ Walking The Llano] is a testament to the value of slowing down and watching where you are going.” Ollie Reed, The Albuquerque Journal

 

 

“. . .[Armitage] is an explorer, and from her book we learn much about people who settled [the llano] and those who must now make gutwrenching decisions about modern methods of energy extraction. . .a perfectly balanced memoir.” Kimberly Burk, The Oklahoman

 

 

“With a cleareyed appreciation for landscape and our place in it combined with uncluttered flowing writing, Armitage establishes her place in the tradition of the best American nature writing.” Mark Pendleton, INK

 

 

“Once you’ve ambled into the lyrical, evocative pages of Shelley Armitage’s ‘Walking the Llano’, the Plains will never seem plain again.” William deBuys , Author of A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest

 

 

“Shelley Armitage’s prose is as poetic as it is intelligent. She masterfully weaves together her personal story with the narrative of the Llano, and she does so in a way that begs the question of what lies ahead for the people and the land she loves. If literature is a study of the human heart—and it is—then Walking the Llano is a quiet masterpiece.” BK Loren, Author of T heft:A Novel and Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays

 

 

“In Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage does for the Staked Plains what John McPhee did for the Northern Plains in Rising from the Plains. She carefully mines the history, character, and geology of the Llano Estacado and combines it with a compelling personal narrative to create an account that flows with lyricism, authenticity, and wisdom. A splendid and cleareyed book.” Nancy Curtis – Coeditor of Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West

  

A Habit of Landscape: The Draws

Excerpt: Part II

This explained the cracked concrete one-lane overpass near that highway. Parallel to what is now the interstate was a one-lane road called the Ozark Trail, starting in St. Louis and running to California, a precursor of Route 66. The overpass must have served as a water crossing. Earlier it had been an Indian trail, the Indians originating the best overland routes. I occasionally found flint from the Alibates Flint Quarry, northeast of Amarillo, suggesting this was a trade route—the red, white, and purple-streaked dolomite highly valued for its strength and beauty. The Ozark Trail was built and used primarily in the l920s. The prehistoric and historic Indians traded from as early as the Clovis period (1500 B.C.E.) to the l880s. Likely the Armitages traveled the Ozark Highway when it was the only roadway from Arkansas west into Vega. On one walk there I leaned over the pipe barrier on top and checked the swallows’ nests underneath. After rains cattle liked to stomp around in the shaded pooling underneath; tracks of antelope and skunk suggested other visitors. I liked to imagine what went on here at night when no one was looking.

Downstream, now that I could imagine it as one, the creek widened and a Civilian Conservation Corps dam, concrete and native stone, hung perilously over eroded banks. Some corpsman had scratched “l936” into the concrete on top. I liked to swab up the Triops that slew in the muddy areas below. Their date of origin: circa 300 million years ago to the present, Jurassic survivors. Dinosaur shrimp some people call them. A living fossil, they hardly have changed since the Jurassic period. Their eggs remain dormant for years, hatching only when there is sufficient water and proper temperature. Pentimento, you remind us that something always lives below, contemporary life a remnant in your twirling tentacles.

Catching and keeping: that’s what folks tried to do with the water. My dad built yet another dam more recently behind the aging CCC one. Part of the reason was conservation for watering cattle, but he also stocked the pond with catfish, building a feeder he could send into the waters, like Moses’s basket into the bulrushes. After my dad’s death, the rusting of the feeder, and droughts that dried the pond for years, I had forgotten the catfish. But after a rain, Triops-like, I saw them flopping over the check dam, resurfacing in a wet season. I tried to catch them with an old fishnet rummaged out of the garage to return them to the now-full pond. When most of them got away, I realized you can’t stop the flow.

And yet the settlers had tried. Dams and fences and corrals and railroads and country roads. I, too, wanted to save something of my father, the emblem of his love of this place, by keeping the catfish from escaping with the water downstream. Tom Green, on the ranch just north, had a one-room camp where he used to escape to nap and read Paris Match. He had cookouts there and sometimes invited us out. The iron cook stove was a beauty and so heavy it took three men to wrestle it into its place. During one of the high rises—Tom’s retreat is on the Middle Alamosa—the iron stove was washed away, later discovered mired in the muddy banks of the Canadian. Water will have its way.

When my father died our family’s relationship to the land shifted. I still ran the roads but touched ground like a worry stone. My mother and I looked at each other and wondered how we would run the farm. My brother was in Omaha and later Houston, far away, and already removed from the necessary knowledge of farm programs, grazing leases, and grain prices. I had only indirect experience. Mother had driven a grain truck during the first harvests in the l930s, grinding the gears in such a way that Dad said she took two inches off the roadway.

Hers was a mostly rosy view of the particulars—sun-baked skin, cow piss, and broken machinery—of running a small farm. When a PBS film crew came to record interviews with local survivors of the Dust Bowl, my mom’s story was not the expected page out of The Grapes of Wrath. Rather than remember dust pneumonia, jack rabbit roundups, and Black Sundays, she told love stories. Her favorite (and mine): to get the farm work done Dad had to plow by the tractor lights late at night, after he had gotten off work from the bank. She lovingly wound herself around his feet on the tractor platform, behind the pedals, to keep him company, sleeping as he wheeled through the dust into the night.

To keep reading and get the full excerpt, click here.

“A Habit of Landscape: The Draws” is an excerpt of Walking the Llano: A Texas Memoir of Place, by Shelley Armitage (University of Oklahoma Press, 2016). It is reprinted by permission of the author and press.

 

 

 

 

Dr. Shelley Armitage is Professor Emerita from University of Texas at El Paso where she taught courses in literature of the environment, women’s studies, and American Studies.  She is author of eight award winning books and 50 scholarly articles.  She resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico but still manages her family farm outside of Vega, Texas.
Armitage grew up in the northwest Texas Panhandle in Oldham County.  She owns and operates the family farm, 1200 acres of native grass—once part wheat and milo—bordering
Interstate 40 on the south and near the Canadian River breaks on the north.  Armitage shared this landscape from her childhood on, riding with her father and grandfather to check crops and cattle and later jogging and more recently walking the farm roads.  Though most of her adult life has been spent away from the Panhandle as a university professor, Armitage has always returned to the “farm” which offered until recently a 360-degree view of earth and sky.  Wind energy farms, oil and gas, microwave towers, and strip mining have greatly altered her childhood landscape.
Throughout her distinguished university career, Armitage’s professional life offered her a connection with landscape. Because of senior Fulbright teaching grants in Portugal and Finland, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Literature in Warsaw, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Studies in Budapest as well as research, writing, and teaching in Ethiopia, the American Southwest, and Hawai’i, place has taken on special meanings.  As the Dorrance Roderick Professor at University of Texas at El Paso and a Distinguished Senior Professor in Cincinnati, she decided in her most recent book to write about the meaning of home place as connected to the land’s own ecological and human stories.  
As the holder of three National Endowment for the Humanities grants, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and a Rockefeller grant, Armitage nevertheless prizes a recent recognition from the United States Department of Agriculture most highly.  Commended for her “commitment to the spirit, principles, and practices” of the Conservation Reserve Program, Armitage has restored the farm to grassland in an effort to heal fragmented landscapes by recreating wildlife corridors and habitat.  Like the fragmented narratives of stories lost, she says: “If we could read the land like a poem, we might more intimately learn from it, understand what it says of natural and human cycles—and that sometimes uneasy relationship between them.”

 

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Love Give Us One Death Review

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LOVE GIVE US ONE DEATH

  Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days

By Jeff P. Jones

**WINNER: 2016 Idaho Author Award**

**WINNER: 2015 George Garrett Fiction Prize**

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press

Date of Publication: October 25, 2016

Number of Pages: 232

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Synopsis

screen-shot-2016-12-13-at-11-44-21-pmBonnie and Clyde are the most famous outlaw pair in American history. Frank Hamer, the legendary Texas Ranger, was hired to stop them. Part prose, part verse, with historical artifacts interwoven, the well-researched novel tells the story of their deaths on a lonely Louisiana back road, as well as their bloody and short lives together. Its many voices invite the reader to become a ghost rider along with Bonnie and Clyde, while it also exposes the forces of injustice and greed that created them.

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 PRAISE FOR LOVE GIVE US ONE DEATH:

“If you are a fan of historical fiction, you must secure a copy of his debut novel in which Jones ‘added, subtracted and distorted facts’ adroitly and creatively in his re-telling of Bonnie and Clyde’s last days. There are very few writers who can write like Jones — in many voices and in various forms — but he choreographs his work like an award-winning producer, designating him as unique as the members of the Clyde Barrow Gang.” -Idaho Statesman

“Love Give Us One Death delivers not only a knock-out story of brutal adventure, and love, across the heartland of the Great Depression, but a story about the very character of the republic itself.” -Robert Wrigley, Poet

“This is the history of love and destruction you didn’t know you needed. In a time of Public Enemies, we see the last legs of a journey between the violent and manic Romeo and Juliet-like pair. The last public outlaws are riding away into their last sunrise, and this book serves as its journal.” -Atticus Books

“The language is absolutely stunning. Characterization, historical setting, ambience are all accurate and depicted with great clarity. A terrific achievement.” -Mary Clearman Blew, Author of All But the Waltz

“This is historical fiction raised boldly to the level of myth.” -Tracy Daugherty, Author of The Last Love Song

Review LSBBT

With absolute certainly and no apologies, this tale forces notions both heart wrenching and startling. There are unforgettable scenes and poetry that challenge the reader and will no doubt stretch normal perceptions of writing. There’s an earnest quality to the journey with Bonnie and Clyde. Moments of their love for other another and tragedies they face are capturing. Between the tension of these scenes, are a variety of accounts and verses. It was a much needed change to push the story along.

With the mix of fact and fiction, Clyde and Bonnie’s complexity is legendary and takes so many different outlooks in this book. Love Give Us One Death is intense! It’s natural to suspect it would be with the kind of content and premise of Bonnie and Clyde. Foreshadowing their end to come, there is the brief and life changing events of the people around them. Family and strangers lives are turned upside down and their own accounts are scattered throughout on this duo. There’s brutality and realness in every experience but also beauty and passion.

Jone’s approach to writing was very different and a good change. The writing is very well done and displayed with fierce imagery and symbolism. While it was a bit bleak to read around the holidays, I found it very impactful and memorable.

about the author

author-pic-jeff-jones

JEFF P. JONES’s ancestors were sharecroppers in East Texas. He was born in Denver, and was educated at the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Washington, and the University of Idaho. He’s a MacDowell Fellow, and his writing has won a Pushcart Prize, as well as the Hackney, Meridian Editors’, A. David Schwartz, Wabash, and Lamar York prizes. He lives on the Palouse in northern Idaho. This is his first book.

 

 

author links

Author Website | Amazon Author Page

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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The West Texas Pilgrimage Interview and Giveaway

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THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE
by
M.M. Wolthoff


  Genre: Contemporary / Coming of Age

 

Publisher: River Grove Books
Date of Publication: February 29, 2015
Number of Pages: 220
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Hunter’s friend Ty survived war in the Middle East only to succumb to cancer at home. On a quest with his college buddies and Ty’s father, Hunter journeys from South Texas into the mountains and desert of West Texas to bury his close friend. During this trek, they’ll drink, hunt, party, and encounter unexpected people and enthralling landscapes as Hunter deals with his grief, compounded by his struggle with depression and obsessive–compulsive disorder. 

The West Texas Pilgrimage is a love letter to West Texas and the wild culture that defines it. Author M. M. Wolthoff vividly depicts the regional landscape, exploring intriguing stops along the way and the authentic context of music, food, and language integral to this generation of Texans, while frankly and thoughtfully addressing relationships, mourning, and mental illness, with characters as unforgettable as the region itself.

***


PRAISE FOR THE WEST TEXAS PILGRIMAGE:

 

I laughed. I cried. This is a book that is real, honest and reminds all of us that life is filled with ups and downs. The only way to keep moving forward is to get real with ourselves about whom we are and accept our beauty and our pain. This young author has amazing wisdom that is so articulately shared with readers of all ages. 
5 Stars, Amazon Verified Purchase
The West Texas Pilgrimage was insightful into the mind of a privileged, pre-adult male who tries to self-medicate his OCD condition with alcohol. While reading, I felt the main character’s vulnerabilities as he struggled with his feelings regarding his career choice, the loss of a good friend to cancer, and the complications of his search for the right female life mate. The book was a quick read…only because I could not put it down! There were several “ah-ha” moments when I thought: oh my, that’s really how a pre-adult male thinks??!? I never knew!! 
5 Stars Donna J Millon
I read the first half of the book in one night; it draws you in with believable characters and real challenges they face. Could have been written about people you know or have met. It covers some tough topics but is an enjoyable read. — 5 Stars Peter Day
Really nice read. Very detailed description of so many things made me feel like I was right there with them. 2 nights to read for a non reader like me makes for a really easy and entertaining time. Thumbs up. 
5 Stars Nunya
The book brought me right back to the border towns of my youth. Step outside any bar and be hit with the smell of fajita and sewer. Glorious!  5 Stars Amazon Verified Purchase

AuthorInterview

What was the hardest part of writing The West Texas Pilgrimage

I struggled with the ending.  This is a story that doesn’t really have a conclusion, and that is intentional.  There are no easy answers to the issues the main character faces, and the only thing that ends is the party.  As much as it pains me to admit it, Robert Earl Keen was wrong when he said that “….the party never ends.”

 

What did you enjoy most about writing the book?

See above about the nostalgia.

 

Are there under-represented groups or ideas featured if your book?

This story is written from the perspective of a twenty something young man who comes from a privileged background in south Texas.  There are a lot of unrepresented groups in the story, but again, that was intentional.  I hope that readers from all different backgrounds will appreciate it for what it is and enjoy a look into that perspective.

 

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer, at least for now, and I think that is what makes it enjoyable.  The little time I do find to write is an escape for me from the crazy corporate world.  It’s typically late at night, on weekends, or even better yet on vacation when I can really detach and pour myself into writing.

 

What do you like to read in your free time?

I go back and forth between military history, biographies, and critically acclaimed novels.  In true form, my last three books have been Without Getting Killed or Caught The Life and Music of Guy Clark by Tamara Saviano, Hemingway’s For Whom The Bell Tolls, and Killing Patton by Bill O’Reilly.

 

What projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently working on a story based upon a trail of corruption in healthcare in South Texas. One of the few places you might think would be devoid of corruption in South Texas, a not for profit faith based hospital, actually turns out to be the center of it.

 

What do your plans for future projects include?

I have a few other ideas I would like to get to, but the most developed is a story about a salt water fishing guide.  I’ve got to know a lot of them and they all make for interesting characters.

 

What book do you wish you could have written?

The list is long, but I’ll tell you what, my most recent read, a biography of Guy Clark, would have been an amazing story to put together.  I’m extremely jealous of Tamara Saviano to have connected with one of the premier poets of our time.  It wouldn’t have been a bad deal to write Old Man and the Sea or Lonesome Dove either.

 

How important are names to you in your books?

The names were very intentional in this story.  South Texans seem to really favor unique names. If you notice, there’s not a lot of common names in this one. The Mexican influence is also apparent.  I personally know four “Cuatros,” two “Cincos,” and six “Hunters.”  My own kids’ names are Hunter Ann, McCoy Martin, and Kerr Dunkin, while our dogs are Uno, Chula, and Gordo. We wouldn’t stand for a normal name in this household.

 

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

Cuba; I hear the flats there haven’t been overfished yet. I would travel anywhere to catch a fish on a fly.

 

What’s your funniest flaw?

I have a little bit of an issue with red wine; I really like it.  I probably like it more than I should. I blame my Mom for that one as well.

 

 

Matthew Martin Wolthoff lives in McAllen, Texas, with his wife, Lucy Ann, and three children, Hunter Ann, McCoy Martin, and Kerr Dunkin. He grew up in a military family, living all over the world until finding home in South Texas, where he went to high school in San Antonio. He is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy and has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Texas at San Antonio. His parents instilled a passion for reading and writing in him early in life that grows stronger every day. An avid outdoorsman, he finds his inspiration—and peace of mind—in the shallow waters of the Lower Laguna Madre and the wilderness of the South Texas brush country. His first West Texas pilgrimage was in 2010. It was a life-changing event.

 


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Moved, Left No Address Excerpt and Giveaway

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MOVED, LEFT NO ADDRESS
by
Vickie Phelps

  Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Date of Publication: June 10, 2016
Number of Pages: 328

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Synopsis

Joel Webster’s uncle disappeared forty years ago without a trace. All he knows about his uncle are the stories his mother has told him. Now his parents are dead and Joel is left alone. When he finds some old postcards with his uncle’s name on them, he decides to search for him. His journey takes him from a small town in Texas to Santa Fe, New Mexico. He encounters danger, death threats, and a beautiful woman he can’t resist as he searches for his long-lost uncle.

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Excerpt

Prologue

My uncle, Joel Webster, disappeared without a trace on June 1, 1949. At the time, he lived on the family farm at Silver Creek, Texas, with my parents. I wasn’t around then, but my mom told me stories about him that intrigued me at an early age. Of course, her stories only went as far as the date of his disappearance.

On the day he vanished, Dad invited Uncle Joel to go with him and my mother into Silver Creek. “Joel, let’s go into town and pick up some supplies. While we’re there, we’ll get us something cold to drink and visit with some of the other fellows for awhile.”

Uncle Joel shook his head. “Warner, I think I’m just gonna set on the porch awhile and enjoy the nice weather. We won’t have too many more days like this before the heat sets in. You and Maria go on into town and do your shopping.”

My mom joined in hoping to persuade him. “It’s your birthday, Joel. Come with us. We’ll treat you to an ice cream soda.”

But he couldn’t be swayed. They left him sitting on the porch alone, smoking a Viceroy cigarette and blowing smoke rings into the fresh morning air. When they returned later in the day, Uncle Joel was gone.

To keep reading Moved, Left No Address and to sample Vickie’s book, 

about the author

author-pic-phelps

Vickie Phelps writes to encourage, inspire, and influence. She has published articles, devotionals, and essays in more than fifty magazines and contributed to several anthologies. Vickie is the author of the novels, Postmark From the Past and Moved, Left No Address, and a devotional book, Psalms for the Common Man. Vickie is coauthor with Jo Huddleston of the gift book, Simply Christmas, and two books on writing, How to Write for the Christian Marketplace, and Writing 101: A Handbook of Tips & Encouragement for Writers.

Vickie is the founder and director of the East Texas Christian Writers Group in Longview, Texas and a member of the Northeast Texas Writers Organization. She worked for eighteen years as a bookseller for Barron’s Books, an independent bookstore in Longview, Texas.

Vickie is a native Texan and lives in Henderson, Texas with her husband, Sonny, and one very spoiled schnauzer. 

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For the Record Review

By Regina Jennings

Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Bethany House

Date of Publication: December 6, 2015

Number of Pages: 336

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Synopsis

unnamed-3Rather Than Wait for a Hero, 

She Decided to Create One

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

***

PRAISE FOR FOR THE RECORD

“Jennings creates a perfect blend of love, mystery, and wit in this 19th-century romance.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

“Jennings’ latest is a delightfully entertaining historical romance featuring charismatic humor, unpredictable thrills, and vigilante justice. The plot is tense and exciting, and the novel sparkles with the wit and charm of its spirited heroine. It is more romantic and less stuffy than your average inspirational, and Jennings uses classic western touches like six-shooters, spurs, and white Stetsons to land readers squarely in the Ozark Mountains of 1885.” —Booklist

“This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining story line. . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.” —RT Book Reviews

 

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Review LSBBT

When I first read the summary for this book I didn’t even realize it was a period novel. It surprised me when I first started and I absolutely loved it. While I mostly read fantasy usually based in the future, it was so refreshing to read something with historical ties. I was hooked by the middle of Chapter Two. I often embarrassed myself in public snorting at the brilliant comedy displayed. Jennings has an excellent sense of timing in her dialogue to really make each character and their humor shine.

Betsy is no-nonsense and all sass. Joel is the smolder with no charm. Honestly just a perfect combination to make you turn those pages so fast you wonder how you ended up halfway with your coffee still hot. Betsy is an aspiring writer for the big city paper but frustrated by the drawer of rejection letters she gets. It seems the vigilante antics of the Bald Knobbers (I giggled the first few times I read it) aren’t relatable enough to the city folk. So what is Betsy to do when handsome Texas Deputy Joel Puckett comes into town, ordered to set things right in little Pine Gap? Well she writes him to be the fictional, swoon worthy, cowboy that saves the day!

The townspeople are colorful and crazy and I really enjoyed reading them. I felt the cohesiveness of this story was really amazing. I can see how it’s something longstanding and with history. Joel’s outside perspective was helpful learning about what makes Pine Gap so unique, especially since this was the first I’ve read in the series. This book was absolutely fun to read! Effortless and wonderfully engaging.  I particularly liked listening to guitar music while reading this and definitely recommend doing it as well. I’m going to find it so interesting reading the first two since I’m definitely getting them. Hopefully winning them!

about the author

Regina Jennings isunnamed-1 a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Caught in the Middle, and At Love’s Bidding and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas.

Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

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Bethany House on Facebook        Bethany House on Twitter

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Sleigh Bells Ring Author Spotlight

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SLEIGH BELLS RING 

Four Contemporary Romance Novellas

By Sandra D. Bricker, Lynette Sowell,

Barbara J. Scott, & Lenora Worth

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Gilead Publishing

Date of Publication: October 14, 2016

Number of Pages: 320

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Synopsis

cover-hi-res-sleigh-bellsSanta Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters.

Never mind a pony. The Tucker girls have inherited their father’s horse farm for Christmas. Make that . . . a run-down horse farm. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they’re at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again?

One thing’s for sure—nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it’s not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart.

Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas?

Find Sleigh Bells Ring on Goodreads!

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abouttheauthors

Writing is usually a solitary act, but reader-favorite authors (and friends) Sandra D Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth got a happy Christmas miracle when invited to work together on Sleigh Bells Ring

Author Spotlight: Lenora Worth


screen-shot-2016-10-22-at-2-30-33-amLenora Worth
has written over 45 books for three different publishers. With millions of books in print, Lenora continues to write for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense as well as her newest publisher, Gilead Publishing. Lenora also wrote a weekly opinion column for the Shreveport Times and worked freelance for SB magazine.

She has now turned to full-time fiction writing and enjoying adventures with her retired husband, Don. Married for 36 years, they have two grown children—Kaleb and Carly. Lenora enjoys writing, reading and shopping … especially shoe shopping.

AuthorInterview

How long have you been writing?

I sold my first book in 1993, so almost twenty-four years now. Of course, I wrote short stories in grammar school and sold them on the playground. (Milk money!)

What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?

With inspirational and spiritual writing, I find I can share my faith and my core values in a way that is universal.  We all want to be loved. It’s that simple. My stories show God’s love and they also show forgiveness and redemption. I don’t preach but I work hard to bring two lonely or hurt souls together. My characters teach me things every day and I hope my stories help others to find their way on their faith journey. I love hearing from readers who have learned forgiveness through my stories.

What literary character is most like you?

Cinderella! (Not literary but definitely a great character.) I identify with her because I grew up in a large family and sometimes I felt shoved aside and forgotten but I’ve always been optimistic and hopeful and determined. And I love shoes!

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Oh, my. I grew up on a farm so some of my early jobs included cropping tobacco, hoeing and picking peanuts and driving tractors. My daddy paid me so I could earn money for my school clothes and supplies. I went on to retail which taught me how to deal with people,  and marketing which showed me how to reach people, and I’ve also worked for a Mother’s Day Out Program (just to have spending money while I was writing.) Dealing with four-year-olds all day taught me how to handle just about any situation!

What do you want your tombstone to say?

“Okay, I’m done now!”

What’s something fun or funny that most people don’t know about you?

I once was carried across Times Square on a gurney during a bomb scare and the EMT taking care of me looked like Danny Glover. And I told him that.  (I slipped and hit my head in the hotel room, but he really did look like Danny Glover.)

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Champion of the Barrio Excerpt and Giveaway

bnr-champion-of-the-barrio-2
CHAMPION OF
THE BARRIO

 

The Legacy of Coach Buryl Baty

 

by

 

R. Gaines Baty

 

  Genre: Biography / Sports / Civil Rights
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Date of Publication: February 9, 2015
Number of Pages: 288

 

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Synopsis

In 1947, after serving in WWII and quarterbacking the Texas Aggies during the glory days of the old Southwest Conference, Texas football legend Buryl Baty was drafted by the Detroit Lions. But, the NFL wouldn’t be where he’d create his legacy. He instead became the head football coach at Bowie High School in El Paso, where he’d inspire a team of Mexican Americans from the Segundo Barrio with his winning ways and stand against the era’s extreme, deep-seated bigotry. 

Tragically, however, just as the team was in a position to win a third championship in 1954, they were jolted by news that would turn their worlds upside down.

Later, as mature adults, these players reflected on Coach Baty’s lasting inspiration and influence, and 44 years after his death, dedicated their high school stadium in his name. The El Paso Athletic Hall of Fame followed up that honor in 2013 by inducting Baty posthumously. 

In this poignant memoir, Baty’s son, R. Gaines Baty, describes his own journey to know his father, portraying the man’s life and accomplishments through the perspectives of nearly 100 individuals who knew him, including many of the young men he coached and whose lives he changed. In addition to many documented facts and news reports. NFL Hall of Famer Raymond Berry provides a heartfelt and relevant foreword. 

A university professor labeled this an important and historic piece of work. It is also a moving story of leadership and triumph over hardship, over discrimination, over tragedy, over one’s self.

 
PRAISE FOR CHAMPION OF THE BARRIO:

 

“The best love story I have ever read.” –William “Bill” Reed, author and retired news reporter/assistant editor at the Dallas Times Herald and Dallas Morning News.
Champion of the Barrio is an important contribution to our understanding of the power of sports to reach, teach, and transform and a vivid portrait of an inspirational figure who was cut down too soon.” –Alexander Wolff, award-winning sports journalist, Sports Illustrated
“You could not grow up in Paris, Texas without knowing about Buryl Baty. He took on the world, and he won. This is an inspiring account and a great read.” –Gene Stallings, former head coach at Texas A&M, of the NFL’s St. Louis Cardinals and of the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide; Member, College Football Hall of Fame
“I knew Buryl Baty well. He created a glorious era and legacy for his team and school, and it was unbelievable how he captured El Paso’s heart. This is a gripping story — that brought tears to my eyes. Buryl Baty’s name lives on.” –Ray Sanchez, former writer and editor of the El Paso Herald-Post, author of seven books, member of five Halls of Fame and consultant for the movie Glory Road
“Perhaps one of Buryl Baty’s most important legacies is the hard lessons he taught a generation of Mexican Americans, who overcame so many strikes against them. El Paso owes Gaines Baty a ton of gratitude for reconnecting us with a man whose story continues to inspire.”El Paso Times
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Excerpt

Chapter 1: “No Mexicans Allowed”

September 1954

Bowie High School’s coaches had looked forward to this game. At the same time, they had dreaded going back to Snyder; the trip there two years ago had been a nightmare. But this year, Coach Buryl Baty had prepared his players for some trademark small-town bigotry.

At seven thirty on Thursday morning, the players climbed up into the bus. They were carrying sack lunches and many also carried a second paper sack holding a change of clothes. They were full of energy as the bus accelerated eastward from the barrio and into the sunrise, but their banter and animation waned as the long drive grew hot and tiresome. When the Greyhound stopped to fill up four hours later in Roswell, the boys found a shady spot to eat their sandwiches. The late afternoon sun was dropping in the sky behind them by the time the bus finally slowed into Snyder’s central square. Curious boys now sat up to take in the sights of the town they had heard so much about.

As they drove through the square, Big Ernie Perea, the freshman defensive tackle, spotted a sign in a drugstore window.

Welcome to Snyder. No dogs or Mexicans allowed.

“Hey, guys!” he cried. “There’s one of those signs!”

An older teammate laughed. “One? You ain’t seen nothing, man.” Several upperclassmen had been to Snyder before, and the whole team, of course, had heard about the town. But the younger varsity players flew from window to window to gawk at the reappearance of the same sign in different storefronts.

The bus eventually eased into the mostly empty parking lot of the motel that had been reserved for the night.

Coach Baty strode into the lobby to check in. The manager, seeing two, then three boys trailing behind him, swiveled his head around to look out the lobby window at the parking lot, where the rest of the team was already milling.

“There’s been a mistake. All my rooms are rented,” he said coolly. Then, perhaps taken aback by the scowl on the coach’s face, he added, “There’s a place outside the city limits. It may have vacancies.”

“Then dial them,” Baty said, jabbing his finger at the phone. Having confirmed that the rooms could be had, he turned on his heel and left, the uncomfortable boys still in tow.

En route to the second motel outside of town, the coaches stopped to buy sandwiches and snacks for the boys, and the next morning, saving the team’s energies for the game, they brought breakfast in from a nearby grocery store. Reservations for lunch, however, had been confirmed at a café, where the players should be able to eat a healthy pregame meal. Until then they waited in their rooms. Some listened to the radio, over which they heard a local disc jockey say, “Don’t miss tonight’s game between your Snyder Tigers and the Mexicans from El Paso Bowie High School!”

Early that afternoon, the team’s bus rolled past the stately red-bricked courthouse toward a café on the square, and, brakes squealing, pulled to a stop. Players were allowed to get out and stretch their legs, but were told to stay near the bus. Coach Baty walked into the café, then stepped back out and waited by the front door. A huge man wearing a white, food-splattered apron soon followed him and after a short, hushed conversation, burst out with, “Coach, them Meskins are not going inside my place of bui’ness!”

The coach had anticipated just such a reaction. He leaned toward the massive, sweaty café proprietor and glared. “Yes, they are. I made reservations here, and we are gonna eat here. If you don’t feed my boys, we are gonna get back in that bus and head back to El Paso. And if we do, there’ll be no football game tonight.”

The declaration, and the intensity behind it, took the restaurant owner by surprise. Could this coach be serious? The owner winced as he considered the possible repercussions of a canceled ballgame. If he were held responsible, he could well be boycotted by Snyder football fans. While most of his fellow citizens shared his social views, nothing else was as important to them as Friday night football.

Little did he suspect, however, that the only person in town who stood to suffer more than he did over a cancelled football game was standing in front of him.

 

about the author

author-pic-gaines-baty

R. GAINES BATY, Coach Buryl Baty’s son, was a “Featured Author” and panelist at the 2015 Texas Book Festival in recognition of Champion of the Barrio, He has been published or quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Dallas Morning News, Healthcare IT News, etc. Professionally, he founded and leads a nationally-recognized executive search firm, and is a career counsellor, trainer and author. Previously, he was an accomplished college athlete, receiving All-Southwest Conference and All-Era honors. In 2011, he was inducted into the Garland (TX) Sports Hall of Fame.

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The Island of Lost Children Review

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THE ISLAND OF LOST CHILDREN

Book 1

REIMAGINING THE STORY OF 

PETER & WENDY

By Kim Batchelor

Genre: Middle Grade / Fairy Tale / Fantasy

Publisher: Luna y Miel Publishing

Date of Publication: November 9, 2013

Number of Pages: 188

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Synopsis

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Peter is still the boy who doesn’t grow up. Wendy is a girl who had to grow up too soon. And Wendy’s brother, Michael, has autism and a connection to The Island of Lost Children, a book for readers 8-12 and any fan of Peter Pan. When Peter leaves his island home, it’s to search for pick-up soccer games and mock sword fights. Wendy spends her evenings looking after her two brothers—sometimes bratty JJ as well as Michael—while her parents work nights.

In the midst of several unusual events including the disappearance of her classmate, Lily, at odds with her adoptive mother, Wendy doesn’t realize that Peter’s pirate nemesis is keeping an eye on her. Everything changes for Wendy and her family when a peculiar fairy named Bellatresse helps Peter find the girl whose stories he once listened to outside her bedroom window. 

With its quirky humor and occasionally touching moments, The Island of Lost Children is about children creating their own stories, families, and communities, all while swashbuckling, navigating mystical rivers, riding child-made roller coasters, and, of course, sailing high through the open skies.

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Review LSBBT

I’m most familiar with the classic tale of Peter Pan through the various movies, including Hook. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to read this reimagined tale of adventure, mystery, and growing up. I really enjoyed the modern take with more and more twists along the way.

For a book reimagined from Peter Pan, I found it actually quite original and exciting to read. By highlighting issues in our world as well, I believe The Island of Lost Children is a great reading choice for students. It’s an easy read that challenges the mind and brings a quirky and mysterious edge to the reader. It’s also a great choice for adults by challenging their own memory of the original tale and weaving a new one for them to enjoy. I look forward to a Book 2 for sure.

Wendy takes care of her brothers and graciously lives each day being a good and responsible person. For someone so young, she’s such an admirable character. I really enjoyed reading her parts. With the modern struggles that the family faces, such as needing to live in a smaller place due to money struggles and then losing Nana, you can see why the kids feel a need to escape. Michael, Wendy’s brother, is autistic in the book and has a more highlighted role than the original. Wendy’s love for him really shines through and it was moving to read his experiences on the Island.

From my original view of Peter in the original stories, he almost didn’t seem human sometimes with his flippant interactions and thoughts about being young forever. This changed more for me from the very beginning. For one, Peter immediately mentions his memories of his mother and being lost. Also, he has moments of wondering what the children are leaving behind. Batchelor does a very good job of varying between her character perspectives. Also, I usually comment on a books imagery when it’s particularly wonderful. You will definitely love the visuals of the Island as it comes to life with each new page! I would definitely recommend this book, so enter the giveaway!

about the author

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Kim Batchelor writes books for children and adults, stories both real and fantastical, foreign and domestic. She has been published in the Texas Observer, The Best of Friday Flash, and local literary journal, Contexas. She teaches creative writing to incarcerated women and lives in Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, with a spouse, two dogs, and way too many cats. One of her prized possessions is a busted tambourine given to her by Eddie Vedder. Okay, he tossed it to her in a dark stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, but the real story is never as interesting as the one she makes up.

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11/16 Review   Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books

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