Review: The Sparrows of Montenegro by BJ Mayo



Categories: Western / Historical Fiction / Texas
Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing
Date of Publication: February 8, 2022
Number of Pages: 312 pages 

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Tree “Bigfoot” Smith and Cedar Jones first meet on the day they join the US Cavalry’s Fourth Cavalry Regiment based out of the Historic Fort Concho in what is now San Angelo, Texas, in 1870.

Their journey takes them into the heart of the dangerous Llano Estacado region known as the Comancheria. The area is ruthlessly defended by a band of Quahadi Comanche and their stoic leader, Lonely Horse. The Troop encounters a large group of Comanches and the gun-running Comancheros at Mushaway Mountain, close to Gail, Texas. A quick battle ensues that leaves eight men dead.

Post Cavalry life finds Tree Smith and Cedar Jones as cowhand and cook on the large Rolling J cattle ranch in South Texas bordering the Rio Grande River. The ranch employs two Vaqueros from the village of Montenegro in Mexico, just across the river, whom Tree befriends.

The quiet life on the Rolling J ranch is brought to an abrupt halt when a local sheriff warns that a band led by the cold-blooded, sadistic killer known as Gato Montes has been preying on the ranches along the Rio Grande. After the sheriff is nearly killed by these men, Tree is tasked with tracking them down, only this time, he is traveling alone and the dangers are greatly multiplied. His epic journey takes him back into the Llano Estacado where he is captured by Lonely Horse and taken to Mushaway Mountain where the Comanche carry out their own form of frontier justice.

Tree’s return journey puts him on the same path as Marco, a Mexican goat herder, who rides with him to the Mexican Village of Montenegro, where Tree meets Julia, who changes his life forever after he becomes involved in and bears witness to the wonderful celebration of Dia de los Muertos.


“I could not put this one down. Mayo has masterfully written a character-driven page-turner, a compelling tale for the reader who seeks something more than the stereotypical western novel.” Ron Schwab, author of Goldsmith and the Law Wranglers series

“This mild-mannered west Texas rancher has woven a border tapestry using yarns made of unimaginable horror and sweet innocence.” Tumbleweed Smith, author of Under the Chinaberry Tree

“A thoroughly enjoyable read—a cowboy’s trail you’ll want to follow, with a memorable cast of characters, renegades, soldiers, lawmen, and simple folks, and a hero that you’ll want more of.” John J. Jacobson, author of All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone


Series Spotlight: If a Butterfly Series by Michael Sirois


Genre: Mainstream / Literary Fiction
Publisher: Flio Widdix Publishing
Date of Publication: December 11, 2021

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Nine Characters + One Butterfly = Chaos Theory. 
The series, If a Butterfly, is a bit like Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon (if Kevin just happened to be a butterfly). A Monarch butterfly, during its epic migration from Canada to Mexico, intersects the paths of a few people, and their lives and the lives of others are altered forever. 

In Chrysalis, the first book in the series, nine different characters embark on a variety of journeys, some of distance, and others while staying right where they are. What do a scientist, a married couple on a vacation, a woman who hears voices no one else hears, a grad student, a quilter, a radio deejay, a teacher, and an astronaut all have in common? A butterfly, of course. All of these characters want what most people want, “to earn a decent living, be respected for the work we do, have a good time, and get along with everybody.” Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.

In the second book, Emergence, the journeys continue, with a different focus for some of the characters because of what happened in Chrysalis; but the continuation of their stories show how each of our lives can touch another life, and what effect a chance encounter can have on everyone around us. 


@sot_tours Blog Tour: Guild of Tokens by Jon Auerbach

Guild of Tokens


Jon Auerbach

Genre: Urban Fantasy (unconventional)

Publication: June 25, 2019

Age Group: Adult


Jen Jacobs’s nights are spent traversing a strange city finding hidden objects, slaying dragons, and tangling with a host of fellow adventurers. And her days are spent counting down the seconds until she can return to the grind and continue racking up tokens and leveling up.

Except Jen isn’t playing a video game.

It’s all real and happening right in New York City.

After a particularly harrowing quest pairs her up with Beatrice Taylor, a no-nonsense and ambitious mentor, Jen hopes she’s on the path to becoming a big-time player. But as she dives deeper into the game’s hidden agenda, she realizes Beatrice has her sights set on the Guild, the centuries-old organization that runs the Questing game. And the quests Jen loves are about to put both of them in grave danger.

Will Jen survive the game before powerful forces cut her real life short?

Guild of Tokens is a thrilling new twist on conventional urban fantasy. If you like determined heroines, gritty cityscapes, and vampire-free adventures, then you’ll love Jon Auerbach’s rollercoaster tale.

It’s so hard for me to begin this review, because I enjoyed this book so much!  This is a self-described unconventional urban fantasy, which a tantalizing mystery, an all knowing secret organization, and a secret that runs so deep through the heart of New York City.

Jen is a coder by day and Quester by night, but also day sometimes too.  In the beginning, we get glimpses of Jen’s regular life as a resident of NYC, but the reader is quickly introduced to the Quest Board and the infrastructure that holds it all together.  With every chapter, Auerbach gives us a tiny morsel of information that will, we hope, eventually be part of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the story.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to solve the puzzle with Jen as she navigates through the world of Quests, tokens, requesters, etc.  It takes an incredible amount of skill to keep your reader guessing at every turn and I commend Auberbach for this achievement.

The relationships between the characters are carefully developed, and I really enjoyed the dynamic between Jen and Beatrice, which doesn’t develop fully until about 1/4 of the way into the book.  Another point is that some urban fantasy books can be nonstop action, but this book is action threaded through a fantastic puzzle, with a splash of magic.  I was glad that every scene was not an action sequence, but there is absolutely danger in this book, though subtle at points. 

The plot and pacing kept me engaged from cover to cover.  Overall, this is a great urban fantasy with a unique premise!  Guild of Tokens is on tour with Storyteller’s On Tour to celebrate the release of the audiobook!  Be sure to order your copy today, enter the giveaway below, and see all of the other great stops on this tour!

Thank you to Jon Auerbach and Storyteller’s on Tour for having me on this tour!  I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  This was a pleasure to read!

Jon Auerbach’s love of fantasy began at the tender age of six, when his parents bought him the classic 1977 animated version of The Hobbit (the less said about the recent trilogy, the better). His passion for sci-fi developed from nights watching Star Trek: The Next Generation and from his dad’s old paperback copies of Foundation and I, Robot.

Jon writes in both genres and hopes to pass on his stories to the next generation, including his kids, who have their own copy of The Hobbit that they lovingly call “the Bilbo book.”

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Blog Tour Review: Odd Birds by Severo Perez


Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Texas Christian University Press
Date of Publication: September 24, 2019
Number of Pages: 278 pages 

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The year is 1961. Seventy-year-old Cosimo Infante Cano, a Cuban-born artist in need of inspiration, follows his lover to Texas in what was to be a temporary sabbatical from their life in France. Unexpectedly, he finds himself stranded in San Antonio, nearly penniless, with little more than the clothes on his back and an extraordinary pocket watch. His long hair and eccentric attire make him an odd sight in what he has been told is a conservative cultural backwater.

Cosimo’s French and Cuban passports put a cloud of suspicion over him as events elsewhere in the world play out. Algeria is in open revolt against France. Freedom Riders are being assaulted in Mississippi, and the Bay of Pigs debacle is front-page news. Cosimo confronts nightmares and waking terrors rooted in the horror he experienced during the Great War of 1914–1918. His friends—students, librarians, shopkeepers, laborers, lawyers, bankers, and even a parrot—coalesce around this elderly French artist as he attempts to return to what remains of his shattered life.

His new friends feel empathy for his impoverished condition, but his unconventional actions and uncompromising ethics confuse them. He creates charming drawings he refuses to sell and paints a house simply for the pleasure of making a difference. In the process he forever alters the lives of those who thought they were helping him.

“A pitch-perfect picaresque tale” –John Phillip Santos, Texas Monthly
“Judge this book by its cover. It’s a stunning… captivating read.” –Alice Embree, Rag Radio Blog

An “elegantly conceived tale–boasting a culturally and historically astute plot–that demands to be read.” –Kirkus Reviews
Continue reading “Blog Tour Review: Odd Birds by Severo Perez”

Guest Post: Out of Temper by Amber Royer

Bean to Bar Mysteries, Book 3

Categories: Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuth / Romance 
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Date of Publication: February 1, 2022
Number of Pages: 264 pages 
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Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand has been the scene of two murders – both of which she has been instrumental in helping solve. So when she gets invited to demo her chocolate skills aboard a cruise ship sailing out of the local port, she’s excited at the chance to get away from the shop long enough to regain her equilibrium. She even brings her best friend along, and makes plans for time at the spa. But when she gets on board, she finds out that she’s been booked for a mystery-themed cruise, and said best friend, Autumn, has to finally deal with the real reasons she quit writing mysteries. Only – if that wasn’t stressful enough – it doesn’t take long before there’s a real murder on the cruise, and someone Felicity knows becomes the prime suspect. When said suspect asks her for help, she can’t exactly say no, can she?

Felicity finds herself surrounded by cruise goers who all had connections to the victim – and finds that both Logan (her business partner, whom she recently kissed) and Arlo (the cop who was once Felicity’s first boyfriend, before she moved away from Galveston) are dealing with the case until more official help can arrive. How will Felicity survive the ensuing awkwardness?

One thing that helps: the retired police dog turned therapy dog she meets on board. Satchmo helps Felicity deal with being back on the water after tragedy in her past – and also helps her uncover a vital clue to the case. Can Felicity unmask the killer and keep a friend from being framed before all the suspects leave the ship?

Social Media: if it feels like it enhances the experience, go with it. 

Guest Post by Amber Royer

There’s a lot going on in my Bean to Bar Mysteries series involving social media.  My protagonist, chocolate maker Felicity, is concerned with ways to show off her travels for chocolate sourcing trips and showcasing her products for potential customers.  Her best friend Autumn makes a living selling jewelry on Etsy. 

And then there’s Ash.  Ash is a blogger, and in Out of Temper he gets a bigger role than ever.  Felicity has called him to task for irresponsible journalism in the previous two books.  This time, Ash has to deal with the fallout from an expose he posted in the past—which now gets him accused of murder.  He asks Felicity for help, and when she starts actually looking at his website, she realizes she knows less about Ash than she thought.

We are living in a time where so much of life seems to happen electronically.   I just found out that the novel writing classes I teach are going to be virtual again this spring.  Writer’s groups and conventions for readers have options now for virtual meetings.

I find myself thinking about the pros and cons of different technologies.  There are definite opportunities for miscommunication.  But there are also ways technology has prevented me from feeling so isolated during this Pandemic.  I recently got a Quest VR set (we have had another VR system for a long time), and I already have a virtual pet (Bogo) and a virtual garden (Fujii).  I also found software that allows you to create a virtual museum gallery.  I just couldn’t resist building an exhibit for my Bean to Bar verse.  Here is a walkthrough I recorded that explains what I put in the gallery and why.

Out of Temper is set on a cruise ship, where Felicity has been invited to do chocolate making demos.  Gearing up to market the book, I’ve been looking through a lot of info on cruise ships, and wound up finding an amazing sale and booking a trip (after reading up on the extensive disease-prevention precautions).  Looking at the list of shore excursions, there are even augmented reality/virtual reality tours for historically significant places.  I don’t know about that one.  On the one hand, it’s a cool use of technology and might add to the experience.  On the other hand, I’m going to be in Mexico.  I had to cancel a trip to Mexico to visit friends, right when the lockdowns first happen.  If I’m going to get to go somewhere, I want to actually be as present as possible in person.  Yet, I still plan to document the entire trip for social media.  Obviously, I’m going to be bringing the book and taking pictures with it all over the ship.  Which is part of the job of being a modern author.  And doesn’t make me feel less present at all.

A lot of what Felicity goes through dealing with how she feels about social media is personal.  I think the key takeaway: if it feels like it enhances the experience, go with it.  If it makes you feel disconnected from what is actually going on in real time in person, take a step back.

Amber Royer writes the Chocoverse comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the Bean to Bar Mysteries. She is also the author of Story Like a Journalist: a Workbook for Novelists, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She also teaches creative writing and is an author coach. Amber and her husband live in the DFW Area, where you can often find them hiking or taking landscape/architecture/wildlife photographs.  If you are very nice to Amber, she might make you cupcakes.  Chocolate cupcakes, of course! Amber blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate.


Tour Review: Trust Me by Kelly Irvin



Genre: Romantic Suspense / Christian Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Date of Publication: February 8, 2022
Number of Pages: 384 pages 

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When her best friend is murdered the same way her brother was, who can she possibly trust?
A decade ago, Delaney Broward discovered her brother’s murdered body at the San Antonio art co-op he founded with friends. Her artist boyfriend, Hunter Nash, went to prison for the murder, despite his not-guilty plea.

This morning, Hunter walks out of prison a free man, having served his sentence.

This afternoon, Delaney finds her best friend dead, murdered in the same fashion as her brother.

Stay out of it or you’re next, the killer warns.

Hunter never stopped loving Delaney, though he can’t blame her for not forgiving her. He knows he’ll get his life back one day at a time, one step at a time. But he’s blindsided to realize he’s a murder suspect. Again.
When Hunter shows up on her doorstep, asking her to help him find the real killer, Delaney’s head says to run away, yet her heart tells her there’s more to his story than what came out in the trial. An uneasy truce leads to their probe into a dark past that shatters Delaney’s image of her brother. She can’t stop and neither can Hunter—which lands them both in the crosshairs of a murderer growing more desperate by the day (hour?).

In this gripping romantic suspense, Kelly Irvin plumbs the complexity of broken trust in the people we love—and in God—and whether either can be mended.


“Irvin follows the characters through twists and turns, writing through the lens of faith and broken faith, while illuminating a bridge across shattered relationships to second chances. This one’s an emotional roller-coaster.” — Julie Gwinn of the Seymour Agency in Publishers Weekly Review

“Trust Me is an apt title for Irvin’s new suspense novel. Kelly Irvin is a master at spinning a complex story web with surprising twists and relatable characters. Highly recommended!” —Colleen Coble, USA TODAY bestselling author of A Stranger’s Game and the Pelican Harbor series

“I found I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough in Kelly Irvin’s latest novel, Trust Me. I promised myself just one more page and I’d stop reading for the night…just one more…just one more. At times I could barely breathe. What a fabulous story! I loved it!”
Carrie Stuart Parks, award-winning author of the Gwen Marcey series


Trust Me by Kelly Irvin is a book worthy of it’s title.  It begins with Hunter Nash, a man who has lost 10 years of his life in jail for a crime he says he didn’t commit.  Hunter’s best friend Corey is horribly murdered and Hunter is convicted of the crime.  Now, 10 years later, Hunter is released from jail and another close friend, Ellie, ends up dead in the same way as the first brutal murder 10 years earlier. 

The story follows Hunter and his ex-girlfriend Delaney (who is also Corey’s sister and Elie’s best friend) as they encounter struggles with their faith, tests of will, and ultimately find who murdered their loved ones.  This novel is a slow burn with a large undercurrent of suspense that ultimately draws the reader in and teaches you about faith.  Other major themes include forgiveness and trust in yourself and others.  The author paints vivid pictures with her descriptions of the character’s experiences, it feels like you are witnessing everything first hand! 

This is a brand-new release from author Kelly Irvin and it is a masterful work of drama, suspense, and forgiveness.  Clocking in at around 350 pages, this would be a fairly quick read and is perfect for fans of Christian fiction, Texas authors, and romantic suspense!  This book is realistic and thrilling from cover to cover!

I would highly recommend this book to all who love fiction and books set in Texas!  Thank you to the author for writing and sharing this wonderful book and to LSBBT for having me along on tour! 

Bestseller Kelly Irvin is the author of almost 30 books and novellas, in romantic suspense and Amish romance genres. The two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist worked as a newspaper reporter for six years on the Texas-Mexico border. Those experiences fuel her romantic suspense novels set in Texas. A retired public relations professional, Kelly now writes fiction full-time. She lives with her husband professional photographer Tim Irvin in San Antonio. They have two children, three grandchildren, and two ornery cats.


Three winners each receive autographed paperback copies of Trust Me.
(US only; ends midnight CST 3/4/2022.)

or visit the blogs directly:



Forgotten Winds



Hall Ways Blog



Reading by Moonlight






Book Bustle


Guest Post

All the Ups and Downs


Character Spotlight

Sybrina’s Book Blog


Notable Quotables

StoreyBook Reviews



Jennie Reads


Deleted Scene

Chapter Break Book Blog



It’s Not All Gravy



The Plain-Spoken Pen

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Character Spotlight: Gone to Dallas by Laurie Moore-Moore


1856 – 1861

Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas Pioneers / Civil War
Publisher: Goat Mountain Press
Date of Publication: October 4, 2021
Number of Pages: 348 pages 

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Sara’s husband was a disappointment in life, but she had to admit he was a handsome corpse.

Climb aboard an 1856 Dallas-bound wagon train and join a plucky female protagonist for the journey of a lifetime in Laurie Moore-Moore’s richly entertaining new book, Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861. Far from your average historical novel or western, Gone to Dallas is a compelling tale of migration, betrayal, death and dreams—peppered with real people, places, and events. With a cast of interesting characters and more bumps and hazards than a wagon trail, Gone to Dallas tells the unforgettable story of a formidable frontier woman in the context of true Texas history. 

It had seemed so romantic when Morgan Darnell courted Sara in Tennessee, finally convincing her they should marry and join an 1856 “Gone to Texas” wagon train traveling along the “Trail of Tears,” through Indian territory, and across the Red River into Texas. 

In a twist of fate, Sara arrives in Dallas a 19-year-old widow, armed with plenty of pluck, and determined to open a general store in the tiny settlement of log cabins on the Trinity River. Standing in her way as a young woman alone are a host of challenges. Can Sara (with the help of her friends) pull herself up by the bootstraps and overcome uncertainty, vandalism, threats, and even being shot?

Follow Sara as she strives to create her store while living Dallas’ true history — from the beginnings of La Réunion (the European colony across the Trinity) to a mud and muck circus, a grand ball and the mighty fire that burns Dallas to the ground. Dallas is a challenging place, especially with the Civil War looming.  

Even with the friendship of a retired Texas Ranger and Dallas’ most important citizen — another woman — is Sara strong enough to meet the challenge? The risks are high. Failure means being destitute in Dallas!

In Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861, author Laurie Moore-Moore spins a page-turner of a tale salted with historically accurate Texas events and populated with real characters. It’s Portis’ True Grit meets Texas history.

“Creative and captivating…five stars!”
“An unforgettable journey…superb writing.”
“I was hooked at the very first sentence.”
“Lovely work of historical fiction…can’t wait for the sequel.”


Meet Mrs. Sarah Cockrell from

Gone to Dallas

The Storekeeper 1856-1861

By Laurie Moore-Moore

Sarah, the wife of Alexander Cockrell, was a real person, and very involved in helping her husband coordinate their numerous activities—from Dallas land grants to managing their numerous business enterprises. He was brilliant, but illiterate. She could read and write. Together they were a dynamic team.

Although Gone to Dallas, The Storekeeper 1856-1861 is fictional, my goal was to represent the real people in the story as accurately as I could—based on available research. By all accounts, Sarah Cockrell was major force in the development of Dallas. When she died in 1892, she owned an estimated 25% of downtown Dallas as well as properties in numerous other Texas towns.

Why did I name my strong female protagonist Sara (note the different spelling)? I tried to change her name, I swear. Sarah and Sara wouldn’t let me. The two strong women overruled me!

Here are some insights on Sarah Cockrell from Gone to Dallas.

Her appearance: “Sarah Cockrell was a slender woman with shiny, mahogany-colored hair parted in the middle, pulled back, and turned under into a bun at the nape of her neck. Heavy brows arched above deep-set gray eyes. She wore a white cotton blouse with long, full sleeves and a rounded collar. Her skirt was black cotton embroidered with white flowers and very full. A solid black sash was tied in a bow at the front of her waist. She looks as fashionable as if she’s stepped out of Godey’s Ladyʼs Book.

Her philosophy:  “I’m guided by just a few rules: Work quietly behind the scenes—there are some in town who resent a successful woman. Smile, speak softly, don’t be afraid to say no, and never back down. Be an iron fist in a velvet glove. And keep a pistol in your drawer, just in case.”

Her strength upon the death of her husband: “I never imagined anything like this. I loved him.” She took a deep breath. “Thought we’d grow old together. My task now is to keep his legacy alive and be sure his children remember him for the fine man he was.”

Her business savvy:  “. . .Sara was invited to Sarah Cockrell’s office for tea. When Sara arrived, Mrs. Cockrell was concluding a meeting with two men who were challenging the terms of a contract they had signed with the Cockrell lumber company. “Do come in, Sara, we’re almost through here.”

“We’re not happy with the contract terms,” one man said forcefully.

“Yet you agreed to them before and signed the contract,” Mrs. Cockrell said in a calm, matter-of-fact voice.

“Well things have changed,” the other man said.

“I understand things have changed.” Mrs. Cockrell paused and looked at each of them, holding her gaze for several seconds. “My husband is dead, and you thought you’d see if the widow would agree to better terms for you, to her disadvantage. Please understand that I will not.”

The first man began to bluster. “Well, well . . . ”

“Well,” Mrs. Cockrell said, “if you can show me how we would both benefit from a change in price and terms, I’ll be happy to meet to discuss it. Until then, good day, gentlemen.” She rose from her chair. Mrs. Cockrell’s young, male assistant appeared from nowhere with their hats and ushered them out.

From the author: “My husband, Roger, and I have been blessed with many adventures in life—from trekking across India’s Thar desert on a camel (and sleeping in the sand on our camel blankets) to repeating marriage vows in a remote Maasi village in Kenya (my dowery was one cow and one goat). My favorite adventure? As a fifth generation Texan, it is discovering more and more Texas history and writing about it!  

We live in Dallas, Texas but sneak away when possible, to a mountain-top cabin overlooking a lake in former Indian Territory (the Oklahoma Ozark Mountains) The cabin is unique—there is a nine foot chainsaw bear in our entry hall. The house was built around it. Never thought I’d own a piece of chainsaw art, much less a nine-foot bear. Life is full of surprises. . . just like a good historical novel.”  
Laurie Moore-Moore is a retired entrepreneur who has built and sold multiple businesses and served on the Board of Directors of an international corporation.



Blog Tour: Holding on Loosely by Dana Knox Wright



Genre: Narrative Nonfiction / Memoir / Self Help
Publisher: Carpenter’s Son / Clovercroft Publishing
Date of Publication: August 24, 2021
Number of Pages: 208 pages

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Helicopter parents. Control freaks. Perfectionists. Intolerants. Over-consumers. Social media junkies. We all fit in there somewhere. Read one woman’s stories of clinging, turning loose, and becoming free.

We are overly busy helicopter parents, control freaks, perfectionists, intolerants, over-consumers and social media junkies–who worry, fear, laugh less, and always want more. In the midst of it, we wonder what it would feel like to open our hands and turn loose of all of it.

In HOLDING ON LOOSELY: Opening My Hands, Lightening My Load, and Seeing Something Else, author Dana Knox Wright tells stories of one who is hardwired to cling.  To her children when they asked for a blessing to go.  To someone else’s ideas, when she didn’t trust her own. She held on to prejudice when she would tell you she didn’t. She shut down for days while clinging to fear. She clung to youthfulness as if what would come next couldn’t be her life’s cherry on top. 

In a particular season of her life, she recognized her bent to possess, to keep, to hold tightly, and to control was completely contrary to Jesus’ example. This is one woman’s history of holding on and her stories of turning loose–stories of the gentle and firm, humorous and heartbreaking ways God led her to turn loose.  It is living minimally from the inside out.


Having just passed a milestone birthday (the one that begins with a 3), and grappling with the emotions that come with a big birthday, some dissatisfaction of where I am in life, and other struggles, Dana Knox Wright’s Holding on Loosely provided me with guidance that I didn’t know I needed!  I have long been a person who suffers from imposters syndrome and struggles with self confidence.  Most of this stems from a need to be in control at all times.  This book, wonderfully narrated by the author, brought me back to the present and kicked me out of a funk! 

This book is relentlessly genuine and the narrative explores all of the themes that make up the central idea of the book.  Let go of things, age truly is a number, and life will pass you by if you are too busy paying attention to things that don’t matter. 

This is a book I would highly recommend to a book club, worship or communal group, or even just a group of friends to read together.  Learning to let go, through the eyes of someone who learned the hard lessons as the author did, and having a group to discuss the book with would be amazing. 

I adored the funny analogies and metaphors scattered throughout the book!  These really served to heighten the personality displayed in the narrative.  I have already recommended this to one friend and it will be a Christmas gift for at least one more!  This is a lovely book for people of all ages!

Thank you so much to the author, Dana Knox Wright, and the LSBBT team for having me along on this tour!  Grab your copy today, enter the giveaway, and check out all of the awesome interactive stops along the way!

Dana Knox Wright began letting go of fear at fifty.  It’s the decade where, in an odd twist, Sandra Bullock asked for her autograph—the decade she began hiking to places with seriously wild animals, rafting in crazy rivers and eating wild blackberries with only mild concern rabid foxes eat from the plants, too. After a long career in radio voiceover, she found a passion for spreading goodness and living to the full. She has offered readers encouragement, hope and sisterhood for almost ten years through her essays published on her blog. Dana holds a degree in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and is the author of Saving Stories: Afternoons with Darrell (2017). She is the mother of three adult children and three grandchildren and currently lives in a small river town in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and an English Mastiff named Pearl. 


Blog Tour: Since You’ve Been Gone by Tari Faris

Restoring Heritage Series, #3
Tari Faris

Genre: Fiction / Christian / Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 7, 2021
Number of Pages: 336 pages

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With her vision and his know-how, this thing just might work . . .

Leah Williams is back in the quaint town of Heritage, Michigan, and ready to try again to make her business a success. But blank slates are hard to come by, and a piece of her past is waiting for her there. Heir to the Heritage Fruits company, Jonathan Kensington is the guy who not only made Leah’s past difficult, but he also seems determined to complicate her present as well.

In order to avoid forcing a buyout of Leah’s building, Jon will have to strike a compromise. Can the two of them work together? Or will their troubled past set the tone for their future?

Author Tari Faris Shares Character Sketches

From Since You’ve Been Gone

Leah Williams – Full of color and spunk, hates making hard and fast decisions, and likes to go with her gut. She’s just returned from a trip to Costa Rica and her twin sister is weeks away from making her an auntie. Most of her clothes are retro or vintage and her greatest pastime is sewing new designs. She and her twin, Caroline, may have always looked alike with their red hair and green eyes, but Leah was always the wild one who liked to live on the edge while Caroline played it safe with her lists and plans. Only the edge that Leah has found herself on this this time will either lead to freedom or her demise.

Jon Kensington –His disarming smile, athletic build, and charismatic personality has always made him popular with the girls. But the only girl he was interested in, Leah, wouldn’t give him the time of day. His larger-than-life personality, his six-foot-four height, and the Kensington name have always commanded attention in the small town of Heritage but the expectations on him have also been high. And now that that his father is gone, he has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. His uncle helped him bear the load the past few years but the more he settles back into Heritage, the more he can see that his uncle was often working against him. He may be heir to the Kensington fortune but can he convince the board that he has what it takes to run a multi-million dollar company?

Madison Westmore – Blond, curvy and beautiful, Madison was known for being “that girl” in town until the day she up and left. Now she is back, and she is different in so many ways. But past hurts and long-held insecurities feed her doubts that no one will believe—or care—that she has changed. No, her goal is to escape before anyone can find out. Too bad the new guy in town won’t stop asking questions.

Colby Marc – He’d been living the music dream until it crashed around his feet. Now he has to rebuilt his career and reputation but the media is making it harder than he imagined. Can hiding out in the small town of Heritage be what he needs to heal and move on? And can Madison help him on that journey?

The conjoined five – The name Madison came up with in high school to describe the close group of Leah, Caroline, Hannah, Janie, and Olivia. They have been close since middle school and now they are all finding their happily-ever-afters in the Restoring Heritage series.

Caroline (Williams) Quinn – Twin of Leah. She now lives an hour away on a ranch for struggling kids with her husband, former Army special forces, Grant Quinn.

Hannah (Thornton) Taylor – Mom of one, married to Luke and loves to fix other people’s problems. Like the fact she always thought Leah and Jon should have gotten together long ago. And now she is happy to encourage a second chance for them. After all, she got her second chance with her best friend Luke, her high school sweetheart gone wrong.

Janie (Matthews) Thornton – Married to Thomas. They run the diner and keep tabs on the town gossip because the diner is the gossip hotspot.

Olivia (Matthews) Williams – Married to the local pastor, Nate Williams, and full of fire herself. She is all about helping Leah and Nate’s friend Colby find love.

Tari Faris is the author of You Belong with Me and Until I Met You. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and My Book Therapy, she is the projects manager for My Book Therapy, writes for learnhowtowriteanovel.com, and is a 2017 Genesis Award winner. She has an MDiv from Asbury Theological Seminary and lives in the Phoenix, Arizona, area with her husband and their three children. Although she lives in the Southwest now, she lived in a small town in Michigan for 25 years. 
 A copy of the whole Restoring Heritage series,
 a $10 Starbucks gift card,
 and a bookish sticker pack!
(US only. Ends 10/22/21.)

Blog Tour: Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt

by Kathi Appelt
Categories: Middle Grade Fiction / Historical / Friendship / Ages 8-12 Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Pub Date: September 7, 2021 Pages: 336 pages
Scroll down for the Giveaway!
Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion. But those stories were from before.
Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.

CLICK TO PURCHASE Simon and Schuster ~ Bookshop.org

Once Upon a Camel is a lovely middle-grade book that follows Zada and her friends through an amazing and sometimes impossible journey!  Zada is a camel living in West Texas with her best friends, a pair of Kestrals and their children.  Zada is aunt to Beulah and Wims, two Kestral chicks who are rambunctious and headstrong, like any good Texan!  When a dust storm kicks up and separates Aunt Zada and the babies from their parents, Zada endeavors to keep them safe and reunite them! 

This is a wonderful work of middle-grade fiction that blends whimsy with reality and majesty with modesty.  The author very much captures the voice of Zada and uses it to calm the chicks through the storm, while relating tales about her life in Turkey and the grand adventures she’s had.  The chapters are short, but wildly entertaining and drive the narrative forward while allowing for short interludes of various times and places.  Zada is a wonderful character that is being used in such an inventive way for middle-grade readers.  The illustrations in the book are eye-catching and you just can’t help but to keep reading once you’ve picked the book up! 

This book is masterfully written and full of charm!  I would recommend to middle-grade readers, particularly those interested in fantastic tales and Texas books!  I have a middle-grade reader at home and he gives Once Upon a Camel two thumbs up! 

I’d like to extend a big thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and author Kathi Appelt for having me along on this  tour!  Grab a copy of this wonderful book today!

Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Mogie, the Heart of the House. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and five gifted and talented cats.
Three signed copies of the book. (US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 10/9/21)

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Book Blitz: The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens

Chrysta Castañeda & Loren Steffy
Genre: Biography/Autobiography, Courtroom Drama
Publisher: Stoney Creek Publishing Group
Date of Paperback Publication: September 15, 2021
Number of Pages: 300 Pages
Finalist, 2020 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award
T. Boone Pickens, legendary Texas oilman and infamous corporate raider from the 1980s, climbed the steps of the Reeves County courthouse in Pecos, Texas in early November 2016. He entered the solitary courtroom and settled into the witness stand for two days of testimony in what would be the final trial of his life.
Pickens, who was 88 by then, had made and lost billions over his long career, but he’d come to Pecos seeking justice from several other oil companies. He claimed they cut him out of what became the biggest oil play he’d ever invested in—in an oil-rich section of far West Texas that was primed for an unprecedented boom. After years of dealing with the media, shareholders and politicians, Pickens would need to win over a dozen West Texas jurors in one last battle.
To lead his legal fight, he chose an unlikely advocate—Chrysta Castañeda, a Dallas solo practitioner who had only recently returned to the practice of law after a hiatus borne of disillusionment with big firms. Pickens was a hardline Republican, while Castañeda had run for public office as a Democrat. But they shared an unwavering determination to win and formed a friendship that spanned their differences in age, politics, and gender.
In a town where frontier justice was once meted out by Judge Roy Bean—“The Law West of the Pecos”—Pickens would gird for one final courtroom showdown. Sitting through trial every day, he was determined to prevail, even at the cost of his health.
The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens is a high-stakes courtroom drama told through the eyes of Castañeda. It’s the story of an American business legend still fighting in the twilight of his long career, and the lawyer determined to help him make one final stand for justice.

“Think you know T. Boone Pickens, the larger-than-life business titan, energy trader, and corporate raider? Think again. The attorney representing Pickens in his final major court battle and the business writer who covered him most over the decades reveal a whole other T. Boone that few people outside his bubble could have ever imagined.” Joe Nick Patoski, author of Austin to ATX and host of the Texas Music Hour of Power

“Chrysta Castañeda and Loren Steffy have accomplished the remarkable. They’ve taken issues most familiar to lawyers and judges, woven them into an incredible story and presented to all an enjoyable journey through The Last Trial of T. Boone Pickens. Craig Enoch, Former Texas Supreme Court Justice and founder of the Enoch Kever law firm

CHRYSTA CASTAÑEDA is a Texas trial attorney specializing in oil and gas disputes. She formed her own boutique law firm in 2014 after more than twenty years as a partner and associate in some of the world’s top law firms.


LOREN STEFFY is a journalist and author of four other nonfiction books: Deconstructed: An Insider’s View of Illegal Immigration and the Building Trades (with Stan Marek) (Stoney Creek Publishing, 2020), George P. Mitchell: Fracking, Sustainability and an Unorthodox Quest to Save the Planet (Texas A&M University Press, 2019), Drowning in Oil: BP and the Reckless Pursuit of Profit (McGraw-Hill, 2010) and The Man Who Thought Like a Ship (Texas A&M University Press, 2012). His first novel, The Big Empty, was published in April 2021.