Posted in 3 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Review, romance, women on February 5, 2018

Book Title: Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies by Evy Journey
Category: Adult Fiction, 240 pages
Genre: Literary / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Sojourner Books
Release date: December 2017
Content Rating: R (Two bedroom scenes)

Synopsis

Cooking a wonderful meal is an act of love. An act of grace. A gift that affirms and gives life—not only does it nurture those who partake of a meal; it also feeds the soul of the person who creates it. These are lessons Gina learns from her mother.

Gina is a young woman born to poor parents; a nobody (her words) who wants to taste life outside the world she was born into and her passion for cooking is all she has to help her do so. She gets lucky when she’s chosen to cook at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the San Francisco Bay Area where she finds a world of a privileged class with money to spare for dinners that cost hundreds of dollars. A world of new friends and new challenges—one that exposes her to fascinating people who’re also gripped by dark motives.

Amidst her culinary adventures, she becomes good friends with pastry chef Marcia, and falls in love, in different ways, with, two very different men: Leon, a rich regular client who has been dating Cristi, her friend from childhood, and Brent, a brooding homicide detective. This other world, it turns out, is also one of unexpected danger that eventually threatens her life.

Can the lessons she learned from her mother about cooking and life help Gina survive and thrive in this other world of privilege, pleasure and unexpected danger?

Review

This book is a mixture of romance, a little mystery, and food! All three are a good combination in my book.

This story follows Gina – from her involvement with Leon, a spoiled millionaire, to her attraction to Brent, a police detective, to her life as a chef/cook for a high-end restaurant. Her life hasn’t been easy and she even refers to her family as “white trash” because of where they live and her family life growing up as a child.

The story is fairly consistent in pace and tone. It was near the end that the action picked up as Gina was being targeted because of her relationship with Leon. The who was quite surprising but looking back, it was somewhat obvious by some of the conversations with this character.

Gina is talented and has a soft heart, but sometimes I thought she was naive. She is young, in her 20’s, and that could play a factor in her actions. It also made me wonder about her relationship choices. She did not want to become involved with Leon because of his playboy nature and his previous relationship with her childhood girlfriend, Cristi.

I do like that this story comes full circle and Gina is able to build a strong relationship with her family despite her childhood. I don’t want to give away too much, but her mother is able to find some peace even though tragedy struck her family when she was a young child. This tragedy carried forward and is most likely part of the reason Gina felt the way she did about her family.

We give this 3 paws up.

About the Author

Evy Journey, writer, wannabe artist, and flâneuse (feminine of flâneur), wishes she lives in Paris where people have perfected the art of aimless roaming. Armed with a Ph.D., she used to research and help develop mental health programs.

She’s a writer because beautiful prose seduces her and existential angst continues to plague her despite such preoccupations having gone out of fashion. She takes occasional refuge by invoking the spirit of Jane Austen to spin tales of love, loss, and finding one’s way—stories into which she weaves mystery or intrigue.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ Pinterest

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway on January 25, 2018

ARANSAS MORNING

by

JEFF HAMPTON

  Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life

Date of Publication: September 22, 2017

Number of Pages: 304

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.

◾   Barnes & Noble  ◾   Jeff Hampton Writer   ◾

  ◾   Etsy  ◾    Amazon   ◾

PRAISE FOR ARANSAS MORNING

“Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”

“In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”

“I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”

“Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”

“Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”

Allie & Bo

Excerpt, Part 1, from Aransas Morning

By Jeff Hampton

 Allie sat down on a piling and tried to get her thoughts straight. She’d never known a father and when she asked about that her mother just brushed it off casually: “He was just a guy I knew once, just a fling, no big deal.” Allie heard some mention of a “fisherman” a few times when her mother was talking to girlfriends, but without a name or sense of emotion in the reference, Allie didn’t dig any deeper.

But now as she looked across the boat at this gruff, grizzled, gray-haired man with her mother’s name painted across the stern of his boat, it was starting to make sense – why he was standing in Walmart in a town where he didn’t live, and why he dropped to the floor as soon as he turned and saw her. It wasn’t such an odd reaction after all, and had she known who he was, she might have fainted too. After all, that’s what she felt like doing now.

Seeing Allie sitting in a state of bewilderment, Sam tied off the bow line and sat down beside her. As Bo clanked around on the boat behind them, Sam asked, “you okay?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. Then, after a pause: “Is it true?”

“Maybe. Can’t say for sure.”

“Why now?”

“You’ll have to ask him. It’s like I said this morning . . . we thought we knew Bo, but it turns out we don’t.”

After another pause that might have been soothing if it wasn’t for Bo making a racket on the boat, Allie spoke again: “So, what do I do now?”

“Only you can decide that. But I suspect the two of you need to talk, and you need to do that in private.”

Sam stood up and pointed to the green awning that could be seen beyond the forest of boat masts. “I’ll be just over there at Shelly’s. You come on over whenever you want to. We’ll make sure you get a ride back to Freeport.”

Allie watched Sam walk away and for a moment she forgot about Bo, intrigued by this other quiet, gentle man. Why couldn’t he be my father, she thought, and then she shook her head at how ridiculous that was. She didn’t even really want or need a father, and now that she apparently had one, she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do with him.

When Bo turned from his work and saw Allie sitting alone, he had the same thoughts: What do I do now? He had nothing to offer this girl that would in any way make amends for abandoning her and Cassandra so many years ago. Like Allie, he shook his head at the ridiculousness of the situation, and especially the fact that he’d gone in search of her when he had no plan or consideration of the consequences.

Bo sat down on the toolbox with a loud groan. Allie turned quickly, thinking Bo might be in trouble again, and for the longest moment father and daughter just stared at each other from fifty feet away. She blinked and he blinked. She brushed a stray hair off of her face and he coughed a little, but their eyes remained locked until Allie broke the trance.

“Why did you bring me here?”

Bo shrugged, not quite understanding the question.

“Why am I here? What is this about . . .” She stood up and began walking toward him, the questions coming one after another, not waiting for an answer. “Who are you? Why did you come looking for me? What did you expect to find?” And when she was right on top of him, “what do you want from me!?”

She stood staring down at him, her nostrils flaring.

Bo’s eyes watered a little. “God . . . you look just like her.”

Allie sat down beside him, exactly where she had been sitting as they churned up the coast from Freeport, but now with a knowledge of him that she didn’t have earlier and emotions that felt strange and foreign.

“Well?” she asked again, “what is this about?”

Bo looked down at his sunburned, leathery hands, the only part of his entire being that really held the answers to her questions. Hands that had gripped tools and worked on motors, pulled in nets and been sliced up by shells and broken glass. Hands that had smelled of fish and oil and cheap cologne. Hands that had once held a woman so gently, and then one night had unlatched a gate and carried a duffle bag into the darkness.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. “I just wanted to see her one more time, to see if maybe she’d had a good life . . . a life that I couldn’t give her.”

Click to read Part Two on Forgotten Winds blog

 

During a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.

He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.

Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa JackWhen the Light Returned to Main StreetJonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Watch for Aransas Evening, a sequel to Aransas Morning, in 2018.

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1/23/18 Promo A Page Before Bedtime
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1/24/18 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
1/24/18 Review Bibliotica
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 2 Forgotten Winds
1/26/18 Review Texan Girl Reads
1/27/18 Review Tangled in Text
1/28/18 Author Interview The Page Unbound
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1/29/18 Review The Clueless Gent
1/30/18 Promo Texas Book Lover
1/30/18 Scrapbook Page The Librarian Talks
1/31/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Thriller on January 9, 2018

ANAHUAC

A Texas Story (Volume 2)

by

WILLIAM D. DARLING

  Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller

Publisher: Canned Peas Productions

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 244

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The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder.

Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.

PRAISE FOR ANAHUAC:

“Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large.” – Lone Star Literary Life

“Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama.” – Kirkus Reviews

I’m a Texan originally from the east coast who’s had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! – Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)

EXCERPT from Anahuac: A Texas Story

By William D. Darling

This excerpt from Anahuac, which sets the novel in motion, centers around a briefly-seen yet memorable character, Sarita Jo Franklin, who lives on Palmetto Ranch, an isolated spread was 12,530 acres of pastures, fields and bayous located at Smith’s Point on the shore of Galveston Bay. As Darling writes, “Palmetto was the way Texas used to be.”

It was getting late and the sun was going down. As was Sarita’s custom, she ate a peanut butter sandwich and poured herself another stiff bourbon, but without the branch water. She picked up her little turquoise transistor radio and hobbled back to the porch to look at the stars and find radio stations far away from her struggles on the ranch. The frogs and cicadas were serenading and the sky was clear. She’d never had time to worry about what would happen to the ranch when she was dead. She was too busy staying in control. Now she recognized her death would mean Clete would inherit the ranch if she didn’t write a will to prevent it. All of her work and sacrifice would be for nothing. The reality staggered her and she had no answer.

Sarita turned the tiny dial on the radio until a hypnotic voice floated melodically out of the speaker. Not even the scratchy static of a distant station could distract Sarita’s fascination.

“Do you have what you need? I’ll say it again. Do you have what you need to get into heaven? Do you have money, but not love? Do you have money and no family? You can’t take it with you. Yooou might not know, but I know what you need to do. You can make sure the Randall Clay Prayer Hour stays on the air. Can you help me assure God’s works are done here on earth? God rewards those who make sure his word is spread. All you have to do is send your check to the Reverend Randall Clay Prayer Hour at P.O. Box 823, Hope, Arkansas.” Randall Clay managed to turn the town’s name of Hope into a three syllable word.

Reverend Randall repeated the address over and again. “Now get up and get a pen or pencil and write this down.” He repeated the address. “I know there is someone special out there who is wondering if this is the right thing to do. God knows you’re thinking about it.  He told me straight out right before I came on the air. Don’t you disappoint him! He won’t disappoint you. May Gaaaaawd’s grace be upon you. Once again that’s P.O. Box …”

Sarita Jo Franklin stared down at the little radio after the sermon ended, lost in the enormity of the moment.  She was not religious and not even sure whether God existed. But the visit from Clete, her aching hip, and the uncertainty about what would happen to the ranch after she was gone was upon her with a vengeance. Sarita had thought she was indestructible, but now she knew different.

Sarita walked into the house, repeating “P.O. Box 823, Hope Arkansas, P.O. Box 823.”  She rummaged through the roll top desk for a box of Palmetto ranch stationery and a fresh sheet of carbon paper. Carefully she aligned the carbon paper between the white sheet of stationery and a thin sheet of onion skin paper for Clete’s copy. Satisfied they were aligned, she rolled the sheets into her ancient typewriter. She struck the keys of the manual typewriter forcefully to assure that the carbon paper left a clear image on Clete’s onion skin copy. The rhythmic slapping of the typewriter’s keys comforted her as she typed a letter to the Reverend Randall Clay.

On the bottom of Clete’s copy she hand-wrote a note. “You are no better than your daddy!” When she sealed the two envelopes she felt better. There was just enough time for one more drink before she went to bed. Tomorrow Sarita Jo would fire up the old Chevy truck and drive into Anahuac to the post office. The sooner she and Reverend Randall Clay met up, the better it would be.

William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.

Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.

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UPCOMING AUTHOR APPEARANCES:

January 12, 2018, 7:00PM

Anahuac Reading & Signing

Deep Vellum Books, 3000 Commerce Street, Dallas, TX, US 

January 20, 2018, 10:00AM

Anahuac Reading in Anahuac
William D. Darling brings it on home! He’ll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever.
Chambers County Library, 202 Cummings Street, Anahuac, TX, US 

February 17, 2018, 4:30PM

Anahuac Houston Release Event
William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event.
Murder by the Books, 2342 Bissonnet, Houston, TX, US 

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January 5-January 14, 2018

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1/5/18 Notable Quotable Syd Savvy
1/5/18 Author Interview Texan Girl Reads
1/6/18 Review Missus Gonzo
1/7/18 Notable Quotable A Novel Reality
1/8/18 Review Forgotten Winds
1/9/18 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
1/10/18 Notable Quotable Tangled in Text
1/11/18 Review Reading by Moonlight
1/12/18 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/13/18 Scrapbook Page The Clueless Gent
1/14/18 Review Hall Ways Blog

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Posted in 4 paws, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Review on December 8, 2017

 

UP NEAR DALLAS

Winds of Change — Book III

by

GINA HOOTEN POPP

  Genre:  Texas Historical Fiction / Romance

Date of Publication: November 12, 2017

Number of Pages: 307

Scroll down for the giveaway!

The year is 1934. Economic turbulence rocks the country. And record drought dries up crops, along with the spirits of every farmer south of the Mason-Dixon. Yet for sixteen-year-old Mick McLaren, life is good as he takes to the open road to chase his dream of being a musician. Riding boxcars, hitchhiking, walking and driving his way across Depression Era Texas, he finds not only himself, but the love of a girl from Dallas named Margaret. Along the way, they befriend Cowboy Larson, a Delta Blues guitarist. Together the three teens, from three very different worlds, come-of-age as their life-changing journey carries them through killer dust storms, extreme poverty, and the unprecedented gangster activity of the Dirty Thirties.

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This book takes you on a journey during the height of the great depression and gives us a peek into how people came together as a community to help those hurting the worst. But it also hits on some of the history of the time – like Bonnie & Clyde and how their actions bring together a young couple that may not have met otherwise – Mick and Margaret.

While there is a multitude of positive moments, it would not be a well rounded book without hitting on some touchy topics like racism and perceived guilt. However, the characters take everything in stride and actually stand up for their actions which causes others to rethink their initial reactions to what they heard. It doesn’t mean that every situation has a happy ending, but it might make one think about how they are treating others based on gossip or sensationalized news stories.

And this book wouldn’t be complete without some romance. There is Mick and Margaret, Cowboy and Saint, and even Mick’s parents – Lucky and Antonia. Each couple has their own issues to overcome and round out the story.

Each chapter of this book is told from a different character’s voice. I felt like this really helped engage me as a reader because it allowed me to look into their thoughts, dreams and actions which added layers of complexity to the story. There are even some quirky characters that are very lovable such as Nana Michelle and an incident with a dust storm and a cow. You’ll have to read the book to find out more about that!

Overall a very enjoyable book and while it is the 3rd book in this series, you do not have to read the first two to understand this book. However the first two books are about Mick’s Grandfather and Father, so it might make some actions of Lucky (Mick’s father) more understandable.

We give this 4 paws up.

A native Texan, Gina Hooten Popp was born in Greenville and now lives in Dallas with her husband and son. Along with writing novels, Gina has enjoyed a long career as a professional writer in advertising. Her debut novel THE STORM AFTER was a finalist in the 2014 RONE Awards, and her just-released book CHICO BOY: A NOVEL was a 2016 Medalist Winner in the New Apple Annual Book Awards. Recently, her novel LUCKY’S WAY, about a young fighter pilot from Houston, was endorsed by the United States World War One Centennial Commission.

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12/4/17 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
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12/6/17 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
12/7/17 Playlist The Clueless Gent
12/8/17 Review StoreyBook Reviews
12/9/17 Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime
12/10/17 Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
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Posted in Book Release, fiction, Giveaway, Historical on November 17, 2017


Title – The Painter’s Apprentice: A Novel of 16th-Century Venice
Author – Laura Morelli
​Category – Adult Fiction,  350 pages
Genre – Historical Fiction
Publisher – The Scriptorium
Release date – November 15, 2017
Content Rating – PG-13 (some adult situations but no sex or explicit violence)

Synopsis

Would you rather sacrifice your livelihood, your lover, or your life? When the Black Death comes knocking on your door, you’d better decide quickly.

Venice, 1510. Maria Bartolini wants nothing more than to carry on her father’s legacy as a master gilder. Instead, her father has sent her away from the only home she’s ever known to train as an apprentice to Master Trevisan, a renowned painter.

When the painter’s servants uncover the real reason why Maria has been sent away, they threaten to reveal a secret that could tear down her family and the future of their trade. She is forced to buy the servants’ silence, but as their greed steadily grows, Maria resorts to more desperate measures. She questions whether her heart’s desire is worth risking her family, her trade, and her future, but Maria’s sacrifices may amount to nothing if the plague arrives on her father’s doorstep before she is able to get back home.

From the author of the award-winning The Gondola Maker comes a rich tale of Renaissance Venice, a heroine with a lust for life, and love against all odds.

Amazon ~ Barnes & NobleOther digital stores  ~  iTunes

About the Author

LAURA MORELLI holds a Ph.D. in art history from Yale University, has taught college students in the U.S. and in Italy, and currently produces art history lessons for TED-Ed. She authored a column for National Geographic Traveler called “The Genuine Article” and has contributed pieces about art and authentic travel to CNN Radio, The Frommers Travel Show, and in USA TODAY, Departures, and other media. Laura is the author of the Authentic Arts guidebook series that includes the popular book Made in Italy. Her fiction brings the stories of art history to life. Her debut novel, The Gondola Maker, won an IPPY for Best Historical Fiction and a Benjamin Franklin Award.

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Posted in fiction, Historical, Spotlight, Texas on November 13, 2017

LAMAR’S FOLLY

by

Jeffrey Stuart Kerr

  Genre: Texas Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

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Date of Publication: November 15, 2017

Number of Pages: 320

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

Edward’s slave Jacob likes and admires his master, but cannot share his hatred of Sam Houston. The loyalties of both Jacob and Edward are tested by President Lamar’s belief that a righteous cause justifies any means necessary to sustain it. Lamar becomes infatuated with a married woman who resembles his deceased wife. He sends the woman’s husband on the ill-fated Santa Fe Expedition, the failure of which humiliates Lamar and provokes a crisis in his relationship with Edward, who in turn jeopardizes the trust that Jacob has placed in him. Edward laments the waste of Lamar’s genius, while Jacob marvels at the hypocrisy of both men.

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

 

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11/14/17 Review Texan Girl Reads
11/15/17 Author Interview Tangled in Text
11/16/17 promo Texas Book Lover
11/17/17 Review Syd Savvy
11/18/17 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
11/19/17 Promo Books and Broomsticks
11/20/17 Review The Librarian Talks
11/21/17 Author Interview The Page Unbound
11/22/17 Review Reading by Moonlight

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Southern, Texas, Trailer on November 3, 2017

A GOOD GIRL

by

JOHNNIE BERNHARD

  Genre: Southern Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press

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Date of Publication: March 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 288

Scroll down for giveaway!

A Bible’s family tree and an embroidered handkerchief hold the key to understanding the past as six generation Texan, Gracey Reiter, prepares to say goodbye to her dying father, the last surviving member of the Walsh-Mueller family. The present holds the answer and the last opportunity for Gracey to understand her father’s anger, her mother’s guilt, and her siblings’ version of the truth.

The Walsh-Mueller family begins in Texas when Patricia Walsh leaves the famine of nineteenth century Ireland, losing her parents and siblings along the way.  She finds a home, love, and security with Emil Mueller in a German settlement near Indianola on the Texas Gulf Coast.  They begin their lives on a small cotton farm, raising six sons. From the coastal plains of Texas, five generations survive hurricanes, wars, The Great Depression, and life, itself.

An all-encompassing novel that penetrates the core being of all who read it, A Good Girl pulls back the skin to reveal the raw actualities of life, love and relationships.  It is the ageless story of family.

Sales benefit Port Lavaca, Texas! Much of the setting of A Good Girl, a six generation Texas saga, is set in Port Lavaca, Calhoun County. During the Lone Star Book Blog Tour, all author’s royalties will be donated to the Calhoun County Museum of Port Lavaca in its recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey. Texas Proud! Port Lavaca Strong!

 

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Texas A&M University Press

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Praise for A Good Girl

*2017 Kindle Book Award Finalist*

*Over 50 5 Star Reviews*

One of 2017’s best will surely be A Good Girl by author Johnnie Bernhard, who as much as any writer since Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, offers a breathtaking tour of the human heart in conflict with itself, desperately searching for grace and redemption in the face of unremitting loss.  Bernhard’s sentences are filled with the stuff of what blues and country music singers refer to as “soul” and “high lonesome.” –Jim Fraiser, The Sun Herald Newspaper

Relatable and real, A Good Girl speaks to the heart of what it means to be human and that generations come and go, but love binds us together. –Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of The Final SaluteJohnnie Come Lately, & Seven Wings to Glory

A Good Girl is a raw, real, and relatable gift to the soul on every level. Ms. Bernhard’s writing is so descriptive, reading this book is truly a visceral experience. One cannot help but reflect on their own family legacy and life journey. Prepare to be riveted by this heartbreaking, yet healing story about family, self-discovery and learning how to love. –Eva Steortz, SVP, Brand Development, 20th Century Fox

A beautiful debut novel across oceans and time, with a clear, objective yet poignant Southern voice. A timeless voice much like Doctorow’s RagtimeA Good Girl is a true Southern American story. A story of one family spanning generations, dealing with love and loss, despair, and redemption, that leaves its readers with a timeless lesson. -Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, Author of The Shores of Our Souls and Moments on the Edge. 

I have found Johnnie Bernhard’s book to touch a powerful chord in my heart.  Masterfully written with deep insight into the journey of family and forgiveness, I’m a better person for having read this book. -Cynthia Garrett,  The London Sessions & The Mini Sessions (airing regularly on TBN Network),  Author of The Prodigal Daughter

 

Gracey opened the door to room 605, and the first person she saw was sixty-eight-year-old Irma Novosad. Sitting directly in front of Henry, clad in a pant suit with large pockets in front, Irma had arranged her body as a brace to keep Henry from slipping out of a green vinyl chair. Her pockets were bulging with used Kleenexes, a jewel-tone cigarette purse, peppermints, and tooth picks. On her head was a blue sun visor with a yellow rose embroidered above the words, “Yellow Rose of Texas.” In the eight years Gracey had known her, she had never seen Irma without a sun visor, rain or shine, summer or winter; it was a permanent part of her wardrobe.

Johnnie Bernhard, a former AP English teacher and journalist, is passionate about reading and writing. Her works have appeared in the following publications: University of Michigan Graduate Studies PublicationsHeart of Ann Arbor MagazineHouston Style MagazineWorld Oil MagazineThe Suburban Reporter of HoustonThe Mississippi PressUniversity of South Florida Area Health Education Magazine, the international Word Among UsSouthern Writers Magazine, Gulf Coast Writers Association Anthologies, The Texas Review, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America. Her entry, “The Last Mayberry,” received over 7,500 views, nationally and internationally.

A Good Girl received top ten finalist recognition in the 2015 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, as well as featured novel for panel discussion at the 2017 Mississippi and Louisiana Book Festivals.  It is a finalist in the 2017 national Kindle Book Award for literary fiction and a nominee for the 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.

Her second novel, How We Came to Be, is set for publication in spring 2018. It is a finalist in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition.

Johnnie is the owner of Bernhard Editorial Services, LLC, where she writes book reviews for Southern Literary Review, as well as assists writers in honing their craft.  Johnnie and her husband reside in a nineteenth century cottage surrounded by ancient oak trees and a salt water marsh near the Mississippi Sound. They share that delightful space with their dog, Lily, and cat, Poncho.

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Johnnie will be on the road with A Good Girl at the following locations:

October 26         Southern Bound Book Store, Biloxi, MS, 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

October 27-28     Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge, LA, state capitol

November 4      Peter Anderson Festival, Ocean Springs, MS, Poppy’s on Porter, Washington Avenue

November 13     Live on KSHU Radio 1430 AM, Houston, Texas, 8 a.m.

November 16     Calhoun County Historical Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas, 5 p.m.

November 18    River Oaks Book Store, Houston, Texas, 3 – 5 p.m.

December 6 – 8    Words & Music Literary Feast, New Orleans, LA

December 10        Barnes & Noble, New Orleans, noon – 2 p.m.

—————————————–

GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

One lucky winner gets a signed copy!

October 26-November 4, 2017

(U.S. Only)

 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out the other blogs on this tour

26-Oct Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
27-Oct Review Texan Girl Reads
28-Oct Author Interview Reading by Moonlight
29-Oct Guest Post Tangled in Text
30-Oct Review Missus Gonzo
31-Oct Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
1-Nov Review Syd Savvy
2-Nov Scrapbook Page Forgotten Winds
3-Nov Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
4-Nov Review The Librarian Talks

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Posted in fiction, Spotlight on October 29, 2017

Synopsis

A Day In The Life is Theodore Ficklestein’s debut novel about Nickolas Cripp, a college student finding his way in the world. Although Nick won’t admit it, he is the main focus to a young adult book that follows him from his home to college to the city, where he wants to attend an open mic.

Along his path, he encounters a teacher who asks about the apocalypse, a drunk on the train and two friends who feel writing isn’t Nick’s strong point, among others. Nick soon finds out that the funniest things in life aren’t that funny at all, and the greatest comedians never go up on stage.

As he goes through his day, one oddball character at a time, Nick starts to question if the comedy club he dreams of being in, is really for him. Should he be who he wants to be? Or who the world thinks he should be? Neither of which, he is entirely sure about.

A personal journey of self-discovery through the eyes of a youth yearning for meaning in a meaningless world; Nick learns that in life, the joke is on you.

About the Author

Theodore Ficklestein is an author, blogger and poet. His books include This Book Needs A Title Volumes 1 and 2 and I Killed the Man Who Wrote This Book. His first novel Day In The Life will be published by Gen Z Publishing in 2017. His multiple blogs include This Blog Needs Sports, This Blog Needs Poetry and This Blog Needs Movies.

Twitter * Website

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Posted in Christian, excerpt, fiction, romance on October 4, 2017

Hello. I’m Excited. This is one of my stops during the one month tour for Sons of Ishmael Reintroduction Tour: The Danjuma Brothers. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs September 11 – October 5, 2017.  Follow the tour here.

Genre: Christian Fiction/Romance

A SCOOP OF LOVE~ SONS OF ISHMAEL BOOK I

Synopsis

The oldest of the Danjuma brothers, Rasheed was a self-made man. He’d learned at an early age that love and commitment brought with it complications he didn’t want to deal with. His single-minded focus had paid off. He was able to step into the shoes of his absentee father by taking care of his mother and twin brothers. But just when he thought he could stop carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders, he gets a call that could change the trajectory of Rasheed’s life.

Ibiso Jaja, a professional caterer, had gambled on the love of a man and lost. Through the redeeming love of God, she had picked herself up and was now living her dream as the owner of Bisso Bites, a bistro in the heart of Abuja. However circumstances conspire to threaten the bistro and bring her face to face with the type of man she has vowed to avoid. The attraction is instant.

Once again, Rasheed is forced to do something he has done all his life – put the needs of his family ahead of his own. This time however, he crosses path with the sassy, independent, Jesus-loving caterer who is bent on making him see the power of forgiveness and God’s love. Just when Rasheed lets his guard down, a deadly sabotage causes old demons to rise. Will Rasheed continue to pursue power and success or surrender to the light of God’s love?

 

Excerpt

Rasheed Danjuma sighed aloud at the sight of another unwanted email from the law

offices of Ezekiel and Stanley. These lawyers were beginning to work his last nerve. He placed his finger over the touchpad of his laptop, directed the cursor to the delete icon and pressed it.It had been six months since Zayd Danjuma, the man that contributed to his genetic makeup had passed away. And his lawyers were still hounding him. Rasheed had thought his non-attendance of the funeral service was a clear indication of his disinterest in anything they had to say about his so-called father.

Determined not to let the email ruin his day, he picked up the receiver and dialed his

assistant’s extension. She picked up at the first ring.

“Yes, Rasheed?”

“Have you heard anything back from those clients in the United States?”

“No, I didn’t,” she said. “But while you were on your conference call, your mother

called.”

Rasheed felt a strange rise in his stomach. His mother almost never called him on his office phone unless she wanted to reach him in a hurry. “Did she leave a message?”

“No, she just said to let you know she called.”

“Okay, thank you.” He disconnected the call.

Rasheed walked over to his jacket and pulled out his cell phone. Looking out of the large window of his Hyde Park office, his sense of unease grew. He checked, and there were three missed called from his mother. His voice mail was empty. What was going on? He dialed his mother. She answered on the third ring.

“Mama, you tried to reach me. Is everything okay?”

“Nna, I really don’t know how to answer that.”

His mother used her term of endearment, Nna, for her sons when she wanted to ask for something she knew they didn’t want to give.“What is it?”

“Those lawyers from your father’s estate came to see me today,” she said. “Rasheed, I don’t want those men in my shop or house. I’m asking you again to come home and see what they want.”

Rasheed’s jaw set. How dare those lawyers hound his mother? Why was it so important that he and his brothers attend the stupid will reading? Even though it had been twenty-five years since their father had walked out of their lives, the memory of that morning was still vivid. Their father didn’t care about them in life, so why was he so concerned about their well-being in death? Squaring up against those lawyers himself was one thing, but when they involved his mother, it was totally different. He wouldn’t have it.

“You mean they came to your shop?” Rasheed asked as though he didn’t hear her the first time. Anger shot through his feet as he began to pace the length of his office.

“Yes.” His mother’s voice sounded shaky. “It’s one thing for them to call but to show up,I don’t appreciate it. They almost scared my customers away.”

After his mother had retired as a school administrator, she had decided she couldn’t sit idle. Her love of fashion led to the opening of a boutique in the heart of Abuja’s business district. Within months, the business had flourished. Rasheed had supported her because whatever made his mother happy made him happy, too. After many years of living in pain, she deserved to live her life in peace. They all did.

Rasheed’s mind went back to the email he’d received earlier in the day. Since these

lawyers were playing hardball, it was clear he had no choice but to travel to Nigeria. “If those lawyers call you again, tell them I’ll be there soon.”

His mother’s sigh expressed her relief. “God bless you, my son.”

“It’s okay, Mama. They better make it worth my while. If not, I won’t be held responsible for my actions.”

ANCHORED BY LOVE~ SONS OF ISHMAEL SERIES BOOK II

Synopsis

When cardiac surgeon, Jabir Danjuma met Damisi Odinga at the University of Michigan seven years ago, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. With love comes commitment and he knows that’s not a promise he could keep, after all he is his father’s son. However, their attraction can’t be denied. Their ensuing one year romance is passionate and intense, and he begins to feel the forbidden emotion—love. Just as he starts to let his guard down, Damisi breaks up with him and moves half way around the world to Lagos, Nigeria. He knows immediately that the demise of their relationship has something to do with that church she joined. She becomes unrecognizable and wants to change him into something he is not. His studies are the most important thing to him, so he did what any sane man would do, let her go.

Popular television personality Damisi Odinga, needs to end the fourth season of her show Becoming Ruth, with a bang. The trending topic in the country is the fairy-tale wedding of the heir to the Danjuma empire. The family has been shrouded in secrecy ever since the unknown sons resurfaced in the country last year. Coverage of the wedding weekend will give her show the boost it needs and seal its number one rating. No one can get an interview with the couple but she had a way in, her ex man, Jabir Danjuma. So what if he broke her heart and she hasn’t been able to get over him? This was kingdom business, right?

Years ago, Damisi left him without an explanation and now Jabir has her just where he wants her. Their encounter sets off a series of events that leave them both with fresh pain and hurt. Angry, they leave Abuja to their destinations. If they didn’t set eyes on each other again it would be too soon. But little did they know that fate has another thing planned. Will they stick it out long enough for the Potter to perfect their scars and pain for His purpose or will distance and time steal the day.

Excerpt

Thirty minutes later, Jabir was in the KTN lobby waiting for Damisi. He got curious stares from the receptionist and guard. He didn’t know whether it was because he looked like Kamal—someone they’d recognize—or because Damisi never received male visitors. He hoped it was the latter.

The space was decorated in light colors, and the walls were decorated with paintings or pictures of guests of their shows. He walked to the one the one that had Damisi in it. She was on the set of her show and looked beautiful. She had a microphone in her hand and was smiling. From the picture, he could see she loved what she did. His eyes saddened at what the scandal would do to her career. If they acted fast, she might have a chance of salvaging it, but she was too stubborn, and his approach wasn’t helping either. He had to get her to see reason.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered behind him.

Jabir turned around and marveled at how gorgeous she looked. He smiled inwardly.

“I figured you could use breakfast.” He handed her the smoothie and the box of pastries.

She took it from him slowly, her eyes softening with gratitude. “Thank you, but you shouldn’t be here.”

Jabir frowned. “Why? Expecting someone?”

She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him to the corner. He resisted at first, but caved when he saw the plea in her eyes. “I really appreciate the breakfast, but I thought you were supposed to be on your way to Badagry. I really don’t need any rumors started.”

He lifted his brow. “Rumors? I’m not doing anything but making sure you’re fed. The baby needs to eat.”

She looked around in shocked horror. “Shhhh. Do you want to say it a little louder?” She rolled her eyes at him and he chuckled. “Jabir, please you can’t be here. In case you forgot, you look like one of the most recognizable Nigerian soccer players. I can’t do the rumor mill now.”

He wanted to dismiss her argument, but he was running late, and she was right. But then he had another idea. “Okay, I’ll leave on one condition.”

“Really?”

“Really.” He smirked.

Some people walked past them and did a double take. Damisi panicked. “What is it?”

“Have dinner with me when I get back.”

Damisi hesitated, then someone she knew walked over to say hello to them. By now, he could see the fury in her eyes. The daggers in them were aimed at him. He raised his eyebrow.

“I can’t believe you. Okay. Go,” she said hurriedly and turned away. He watched her go, but smiled when she walked back his way. “Thank you, and please drive safe.”

Yep. This new approach just might work. There was hope.

About the Author

Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, Unoma Nwankwor is an award winning, international best-selling author of several fiction titles, and a champion of purpose. She is the recipient of the Nigerian Writers’ Award 2015 for Best Faith Based Fiction Writer. At the end of 2016, she was short listed for the Diaspora Writer of the Year. She was also recently named as one of the “100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40”

When she is not writing fiction, she empowers women of faith to remain rooted in hope by building confident expectations in the promises of God. She’s the host of the Anchor Talk Podcast, the COO of KevStel Group LLC and Founder of Living A Life of Expectancy.

Unoma resides in Atlanta with her husband and two children.

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Posted in 4 1/2 paws, Adventure, fiction, suspense on July 23, 2017

Synopsis

Ed and his childhood friend Danny are gearing up in Kodiak, Alaska, preparing to join the Angie Piper’s crew for another season of crab fishing. Ed is a relative newcomer, but despite the perils of the trade, he sees no reason to fear for Danny’s safety. The Angie Piper has always been blessed. She has a stalwart captain, Fred, a crack engineer, Dave, and two time-tested pros to keep the rest of the operation running smoothly, exuberant Loni and the more reticent Salazar.

Every season has a greenhorn, the one who works for a pittance in order to learn the ropes. This time around it is Ed’s friend Danny, no ordinary crewman. Their shared history is complex. Though strong, brave, and hardworking, Danny is a simple soul, and Ed is weighed down by guilt, dark memories of the many times he failed to defend his friend against the inevitable bullying. And cantankerous Dave believes Danny is a bad omen, so much so that his bitter opposition may endanger them all.

The season starts off strong, and the crew is elated by the bounty of their catch. Then their luck turns. The skies grow dark, the waves swell, and Mother Nature bears down on them with her full arsenal. When the storm finally abates, who will live to tell the tale?

Amazon * Blackstone Audio * Barnes & Noble

Review

This is one intense book! You might have seen some of the reality TV shows about those that fish or crab in Alaska or that general area. This book brings the harsh reality of that what those men (and possibly women) endure in this profession.

But the book is about a little bit more than that. It is also about a relationship between Ed and Danny. While it takes awhile to really figure out what is wrong with Danny (mentally challenged), the relationship between these two men has many facets. From Ed’s guilt at not protecting his friend as he should have growing up, to Danny’s loyalty to Ed. There are some harsh realities that Ed has to learn and face to become a better man.

I felt that the book really reflected the grittiness of their profession and how quickly mother nature can rain down and create havoc for those on the boats. There is a lot they have to do and need to be quick on their feet to avoid going overboard or having the boat sink on their watch.

The only thing I wasn’t wild about was the number of f* bombs. yes perhaps it was called for in some situations, but if there needs to be cussing how about using other words? I had to deduct 1/2 star for that. But other than this one thing, the book is well worth reading.  We give it 4 1/2 paws.

About the Author

Chris Riley lives near Sacramento, California, vowing one day to move back to the Pacific Northwest. In the meantime, he teaches special education, writes awesome stories, and hides from the blasting heat for six months out of the year. He has had dozens of short stories published in various magazines and anthologies, and across various genres. Chris is represented by Mark Gottlieb of Trident Media Group, and his debut novel, The Sinking of the Angie Piper, will be published in July, 2017.

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