LSBBT Review: River, Sing Out by James Wade

   

RIVER, SING OUT
BY
JAMES WADE
 
Categories: Contemporary / Literary Fiction
Rural Fiction / Crime Fiction / Coming-of-Age
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Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 315 pages
 

“And through these ages untold, the river did act as the lifeblood of all those things alongside it.”

Jonah Hargrove is celebrating his thirteenth birthday by avoiding his abusive father, when a girl named River stumbles into his yard, injured and alone. The teenager has stolen thousands of dollars’ worth of meth from her murderous, drug-dealing boyfriend, but lost it somewhere in the Neches River bottoms during her escape. Jonah agrees to help her find and sell the drugs so she can flee East Texas.

Chasing after them is John Curtis, a local drug kingpin and dog fighter, as well as River’s boyfriend, the dangerous Dakota Cade.

Each person is keeping secrets from the others—deadly secrets that will be exposed in violent fashion as all are forced to come to terms with their choices, their circumstances, and their own definition of God.

With a colorful cast of supporting characters and an unflinching violence juxtaposed against lyrical prose, River, Sing Out dives deep into the sinister world of the East Texas river bottoms, where oppressive poverty is pitted against the need to believe in something greater than the self.



PRAISE FOR RIVER, SING OUT

”With echoes of Jim Harrison, Cormac McCarthy (and perhaps a smidge of Flannery O’Connor), River, Sing Out is a beautiful, brutal meditation on survival and love in the face of nearly unspeakable violence and depravity in an East Texas community ravaged by the meth trade. Taut, lyrical, and precise, the prose soars in this important new novel by James Wade.” —Elizabeth Wetmore, New York Times bestselling author of Valentine

”If you read one novel this year, make it this one. James Wade’s River, Sing Out, is an instant classic filled with characters that will break your heart, lyrical prose as haunted as the river it evokes, and a Southern Noir undertow that wholly sucks you in and keeps you turning the pages until it’s searing, masterful conclusion.” —May Cobb, author of The Hunting Wives

”Wade, whose striking debut, All Things Left Wild (2020), traveled back a century in Texas history, uses an unlikely friendship to explore an equally wild present-day landscape…A haunting fable of an impossible relationship fueled by elemental need and despair.” —Kirkus Reviews


This likely makes little sense, but it is hard to actually describe my overwhelming feelings about this book.  This is a heart-wrenching coming of age tale focusing on Jonah Hargrove and a cast of supporting characters.  Jonah is 13 years old and looking to avoid his abusive father when he runs into River.  River is a woman on the run from a drug dealing boyfriend and needing help.  On the run and trying to find a way out of a dire situation, Jonah and ultimately River, learn incredibly hard lessons about life, love, and what it means to be a human.

Author James Wade has an incredibly poetic sense of style and a unique dialogue structure.  The characters are vivid and full of life, truly they do not stay on the page.  This book reads as a dramatic, contemporary coming of age novel.  The pacing is solid with the hardback version clocking in at 275 pages.  The cover is beautiful and captures the spirit of the book with it’s haunting view of a river and a single tree.  I very much enjoyed the third person perspective throughout the book.  This choice kept the reader in Jonah’s shoes and experiencing his feelings. 

At the end of the day, I would recommend this book to fans of contemporary fiction, coming of age tales, gritty dramas, and stories set in East Texas.  I very much enjoyed this book and appreciated the real-world drama that played out over the narrative.  This is my second book to read by this author and I am a lifelong fan!  Grab a copy today!  Thanks to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for the opportunity to read and review this book!

 

James Wade lives and writes in the Texas Hill Country with his wife and daughter. He is the author of All Things Left Wild, which is a winner of the 2016 Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest, a winner of the 2021 Spur Award for Best Historical Fiction, and a winner of the 2021 Reading the West Award for Best Debut Novel. His fiction has appeared in various literary journals and magazines.
 

Review: Ely Air Lines Vol 1 by Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

   
ELY AIR LINES
Select Stories from 10 Years
of a Weekly Column,
Volumes 1 & 2
by
MIKE ELY
and
LINDA STREET-ELY
Genre: Nonfiction
Categories: Short Stories / Aviation / Adventure 
Date of Publication: January 29, 2020 
Number of Pages: Volume 1: 350 pages; Volume 2: 330 pages  
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Buckle up and fly with Mike and Linda Street-Ely to discover amazing people, interesting places, and the conquest of flight. Since 2007, readers have enjoyed engaging articles weekly in the newspaper column, “Ely Air Lines.” Now you can step aboard to enjoy a collection of stories that explore the vast realm of the flyer’s world.

Communities are the lifeblood of the United States.  Advocacy for communities is essential to keeping America working and keeping America thriving.  Ely Air Lines (a collection of short stories and real-life encounters) is a magnificent work that exemplifies the American Spirit of community.  This project sprang from the authors’ love of community and sharing their experiences in the skies with others! 

Though this book does not have thematic characters to follow, readers will quickly pick up on the things that make the general aviation community special.  Authors Mike and Linda have compiled over 10 years of aviation columns from the Liberty Gazette out of Liberty County, Texas into a wonderful two-volume work that explores the relationships and communities built by aviation across the world.  Readers will find inspiring stories about young pilots, tear-jerking stories about war-time, and intriguing stories about the past.  Each story is presented with a storyteller’s voice that makes the narrative even more interesting! 

This book isn’t just for the aviator at heart, this is for anyone who is interested in the skies!  The stories are broken up as vignettes and organized into larger categories which help the reader to understand the theme of each chapter.  A particular favorite of mine is “The Real Rosie the Riveter”, which tells the story of a young woman, the real Rosie the Riveter, who worked during WWII as a WASP (Womens Airforce Service Pilot).  This story has a special place in my heart because the WASP service is something I have always admired!  The National WASP museum in Sweetwater, Texas if you passing through!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys storytelling and aviation!  You don’t necessarily need to understand aircraft lingo to love this book!  Each chapter takes the reader on adventures both far flung and near to home!  This volume is about 300 pages and would be a perfect read for a rainy day or on a flight! 


Thank you so much to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the authors for the opportunity to read and review this book!  Pick up a copy today and start your high flying journey! 

Mike Ely has logged thousands of hours over more than forty years as a professional pilot. He holds an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings and a flight instructor certificate. Mike has taught people to fly in small single engine airplanes, gliders, turboprops, and corporate jets. As a freight pilot and an international corporate pilot, he has flown through all kinds of weather, to many places, both exotic and boring. His love for writing was instilled by his father at an early age. Linda Street-Ely is an award-winning, multi-genre author and playwright. She also holds an airline transport pilot certificate, a commercial seaplane certificate and a tailwheel endorsement. She has air raced all over the U.S., including four times in the historic all-women’s transcontinental Air Race Classic. Besides flying, Linda has a keen appreciation for great storytelling. She loves to travel the world, meet people, and learn about other cultures because she believes great stories are everywhere. Together, Linda and Mike are “Team Ely,” five-time National Champions of the Sport Air Racing League, racing their Grumman Cheetah, named the “Elyminator,” and dubbed “The Fastest Cheetah in the Known Universe.” They live in Liberty, Texas.
 
 
 
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Book Review: Comfort Foods by Kimberly Fish

COMFORT FOODS
A Comfort Stories
Stand-Alone Novel
by
Kimberly Fish
Categories: Contemporary / Second-Chance Romance
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: October 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 385 pages
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From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook. Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end. Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time?

While the premise might sound like a cookie-cutter Hallmark movie style book, Comfort Foods is an intriguing dive into the lives of Lacy, a woman who finds herself back in her hometown, and Rudy, a chef and single dad.  Their paths cross in such an interesting way as Lacy suddenly finds herself thrust back into Comfort, Texas after a fall from the top as a social media darling.  Lacy teams up with her sister to throw a fun food festival.  Rudy is tapped to help with the festival and sparks fly!

The characters are so well-written and engaging!  I felt right at home in Comfort, Texas and so will any reader who enjoys cozy stories set in small towns!  From the beginning, the charm of small town Texas is on display and can you not fall in love with the setting!  The book is around 360 pages and takes you on an adventure that you won’t forget!  Aside from the riveting storytelling, my favorite part of this book is that every character has an integral part to play in the story!  Not one character is wasted and I can’t pick the one loved the most because they are all amazing!

While the narrative has a relatively light-hearted tone across the board, there are dramatic moments that can hit close to home.  Family struggles, crime, exes, and more pop up to make the story follow a rocky path.  I felt so at home in the writing and I read chapter after chapter.  Soon, I couldn’t stop reading!  This book really has that ‘couldn’t put it down’ factor!  My husband is an amateur chef and I kept reading him passages with vivid descriptions of culinary flair!  A unique feature of this title is the recipes in the back of the book!  Whip up a Steak Diane for your loved ones!

This would be a great beach read, or a great book to read in the park on a warm day.  This is perfect for fans of small town romance with a hint of real world drama!  I would recommend this as a book club read or for fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Pam Jenoff!  Overall, this is a lovely and rich story with a lot of heart and a heaping helping of Texas spirit!

Thank you to the author, Kimberly Fish, and the folks at Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along on this tour! I hope you pick up a copy today!

Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work. Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.
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Blog Tour: The Square Root of Texas by Rob Witherspoon

THE SQUARE ROOT OF TEXAS: The First Calamity of QED Morningwood
by
Rob Witherspoon
Genre: Satire / Humor / Absurdist Fiction
Publisher: Independently Published
Date of Publication: September 26, 2018
Number of Pages: 181 pages
 
Scroll down for Giveaway!
 
QED Morningwood is a liar, braggart and teller of tall tales. When he shows up at the domino parlor with a mysterious Russian crate in the back of his pick-up truck, he confides to the players he is a ‘Shadow’ member of the NRA, not on their official membership roll, and has a load of rocket propelled grenades – all lies. The news spreads to the real Shadow NRA, the FBI and Homeland Security. Meanwhile, the Russian Ministry of Cultural Preservation sends an agent to retrieve the crate, the actual contents known only to the Russians.

The Russian agent, an FBI team, a DHS undercover agent and a Shadow NRA hit team arrive in Heelstring, Texas looking for QED and his crate. Their convergence is followed by interrogations, seduction, lies, arrests, jailbreak, kidnapping and rescue – along with car chases and explosions. If not for Cotton Widdershins, an ancient black man with secrets of his own, who acts as QED’s mentor and savior, the Morningwood line would be doomed to end, or at best spend life in a federal penitentiary.

My copy of this book came with an inscription from the author that reads, “Be irrational!”, and oh how appropriate!  The Square Root of Texas is a delightfully quirky book with so much humor and Texas spirit!  QED Morningwood is a teller of tall tales, which gets him into all sorts of trouble!  This book has explosions, car chases, fun humor, and absurdist elements!  It reads like an action movie from the shadow NRA to FBI agents, and all sorts of hijinks! 

My favorite elements to this book were the names of all of the characters and the footnotes on several pages.  The names are just incredibly zany- QED Morningwood, Frivolous, Young Kid, Cotton Widdershins, various FBI and other governmental agents, Russian agents, and so many more!  The footnotes added even more humor to the narrative here!  One of the best was the description of Texas temperatures, in which the author describes the temperature ranges in Texas with the highest being described as, go ahead and sin all you want because you have already arrived in Hell! 

I loved the pacing of this book, I didn’t put it down from the moment I picked it up!  It’s about 180 or so pages and is bound with a very fun cover!  I felt the narrative really captured the spirit of Texas, but also gave me a good laugh at so many points in the book!  The characters are well developed and sharply defined.  This isn’t exactly a pulpy novel, but I would certainly say it is a humorous, absurdist, even satirical work of fiction that is perfect for adult readers who want a laugh, and how I needed a laugh this week!

I love getting to review works by independent authors and this is certainly  a gem of a novel!  I hope to return to the world of QED Morningwood in the future and I will be on the lookout for new works by this author!

Thank you to Rob Witherspoon, author of the book, and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along on this tour! 



Rob Witherspoon was born and raised in rural Texas. He earned a BA in Physical Education, UT Arlington 1985 and a BS in Aerospace Engineering, UT Arlington 1990. He worked in the aerospace industry for 30 years before retiring in 2018. He lives in north central Texas with his wife and youngest daughter and has spent much of his life in rural communities and on the ranch. He combines his love for Texas, lying, the outdoors, engineering, and his children in his writing.

     
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Blog Tour: Strong from the Heart by Jon Land

Strong from the Heart

(Caitlin Strong #11)

by
Jon Land
Genre: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Publisher: Forge Books
Date of Publication: July 28, 2020
Number of Pages: 368 pages
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Caitlin Strong wages her own personal war on drugs against the true power behind the illicit opioid trade in Strong from the Heart, the blistering and relentless 11th installment in Jon Land’s award-winning series.
The drug crisis hits home for fifth generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong when the son of her outlaw lover Cort Wesley Masters nearly dies from an opioid overdose. On top of that, she’s dealing with the inexplicable tragedy of a small Texas town where all the residents died in a single night.
When Caitlin realizes that these two pursuits are intrinsically connected, she finds herself following a trail that will take her to the truth behind the crisis that claimed 75,000 lives last year. Just in time, since the same force that has taken over the opiate trade has even more deadly intentions in mind, specifically the murder of tens of millions in pursuit of their even more nefarious goals.
The power base she’s up against―comprised of politicians and Big Pharma, along with corrupt doctors and drug distributors―has successfully beaten back all threats in the past. But they’ve never had to deal with the likes of Caitlin Strong before and have no idea what’s in store when the guns of Texas come calling.
At the root of the conspiracy lies a cabal nestled within the highest corridors of power that’s determined to destroy all threats posed to them. Caitlin and Cort Wesley may have finally met their match, finding themselves isolated and ostracized with nowhere to turn, even as they strive to remain strong from the heart.

PRAISE FOR STRONG FROM THE HEART:

“A time-jumping, savory Tex-Mex tale, seasoned with all the ingredients of a great thriller.”―Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author

“A mind-blowing tale that takes a flamethrower to our psyches to warm the chill it leaves up our spines. Seething with energy and replete with wondrously staged set pieces, this is thriller writing that defies genre even as it reminds us why we love to read.”―NYK Daily

“Exceptional…. Snappy one-liners, plausible dialogue, and lots of nonstop action, Land delivers another riveting, believable thriller.”―Press-Republican

“Caitlin Strong is one of the strongest female characters ever to hit the page, and Jon Land is the king of the intelligent thriller, continually pushing his own writing to new levels.”―New York Journal of Books

This book left me mostly speechless!  Before I picked up this book, I hadn’t read anything from Jon Land and what a mistake that has been!  I have long been a fan of the modern crime drama with grit, but also a lot of heart!  The Caitlin Strong series is all of this and more!  A modern Texas Ranger who kicks butt and takes names!  Caitlin is a law enforcement professional with a history great work, lives saved, and justice served!

This book absolutely reads as a standalone and I would encourage fans of this book to pick up any of the other Jon Land books out there!  This book is a little bit Narcos, a little bit Walker, Texas Ranger, part Justified, and all strong female lead.  Land takes on big issues such as immigration and the opioid crisis through a narrative that lends itself to tackling these big themes. 

The narrative follows several characters including Caitlin Strong, a working Texas Ranger, Cort Wesley Masters, Roland Fass, Colonel Guillermo Paz, and others through a mysterious crisis in a remote rural town near the Texas/Mexico border, an overdose, and other interesting events.  It was hard to put this book down, the pacing is very tight and I found myself nervously awaiting the next piece of the puzzle as I read!  I loved the backdrop of rural and urban South Texas!  The relationships between the characters play an integral part in the book, romantic, friendly or otherwise.  The narrative flows seamlessly from the present to the past, in flashbacks to Caitlin’s family members who have a long history of serving in the ranks of the Texas Rangers.  You may even find some historical figures in this book! 

Overall, I found this book to be engaging, interesting, and a perfect balance of real-life law enforcement, real-life issues, and fictional characters interacting with the narrative!  I would recommend this to fans of crime books, semi-historical mysteries, books that deal with big issues, and fans of series!  I loved this book and would recommend to friends in a heartbeat!  Jon Land has a significant catalog of books to pick up when you pick up a copy of Strong from the Heart!

Jon Land is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, eleven of which feature Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong. The critically acclaimed series has won more than a dozen awards, including the 2019 International Book Award for Best Thriller for Strong as Steel and the 2020 American Fiction Award for Best Thriller. He has also authored six books in the MURDER, SHE WROTE series and has recently taken over writing Margaret Truman’s CAPITAL CRIMES series. A 1979 graduate of Brown University, Land lives in Providence, Rhode Island and received the 2019 Rhode Island Authors Legacy Award for his lifetime of literary achievements.
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Blog Tour: The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt #LSBBT

THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME
by
MELISSA LENHARDT
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Romance  Publisher:  Graydon House (Harlequin)
Date of Publication: August 4, 2020
Number of Pages: 352 Scroll down for the giveaway!
True love never fades—and old secrets never die . . . 
Nora hasn’t looked back. Not since she fled Texas to start a new life. Away from her father’s volatile temper and the ever-watchful gaze of her claustrophobically conservative small town, Nora has freed herself. She can live—and love—however she wants. The only problem is that she also left behind the one woman she can’t forget. Now tragedy calls her back home to confront her past—and reconcile her future. Sophie seems to have everything—a wonderful daughter, a successful husband, and a rewarding career. Yet underneath that perfection lies an explosive secret. She still yearns for Nora—her best friend and first love—despite all the years between them. Keeping her true self hidden hasn’t been easy, but it’s been necessary. So when Sophie finds out that Nora has returned, she hopes Nora’s stay is short. The life she has built depends on it. But they both find that first love doesn’t fade easily. Memories come to light, passion ignites, and old feelings resurface. As the forces of family and intolerance that once tore them apart begin to reemerge, they realize some things may never change—unless they demand it.
                          
PRAISE FOR THE SECRET OF YOU AND ME: “A compelling story of second chances and being true to yourself.” —Harper Bliss, bestselling author of Seasons of Love
“Lenhardt convinces in her portrayal of the conflict between desire and control.” —Publishers Weekly
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(Personalized/signed copies available through Interabang)
A portion of royalties are going to the It Gets Better Project (Click for more details.)

Audio Book Clip

The Secret of You and Me

by Melissa Lenhardt

I love audio books—love them. When done well, it adds a whole new dimension to the story. When my publisher sent me the audio file for Sawbones, the first in my historical-fiction series, I opened it with trepidation. I hadn’t been crazy about one of my previous audio books; in fact, one character’s voice ruined the whole thing for me. The moment I heard Suehyla Al-Attar speak as Laura, I heaved a massive sigh of relief, and then I started grinning. As I kept listening, I might have cried at one point. Suehyla was Laura.

I was lucky with Sawbones that my publisher sent me samples of three voice actors, and I was able to choose which one I liked best. That doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the publisher selects for you. When Harper Audio sent me six voice actors to choose from for Secret—three for Nora, three for Sophie—I was thrilled it was going to be dual narration. Natalie Duke and Courtney Patterson, as Nora and Sophie, respectively, are perfect!

You’re only going to hear Natalie Duke in this sample, but trust me when I say, Courtney Patterson is brilliant as Sophie. This audio book is going to slap, as my eighteen-year-old son would say.

Did you know that you can support local bookstores when you buy audio books? You can! Click here to purchase The Secret of You and Me through Libro.fm.

or CLICK TO LISTEN ON SOUNDCLOUD

Melissa Lenhardt is a women’s fiction, mystery, and historical fiction author. Her debut mystery, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest, and Sawbones, her historical-fiction debut, was hailed as a “thoroughly original, smart and satisfying hybrid, perhaps a new sub-genre: the feminist Western” by Lone Star Literary Life. The New York Times called her sixth novel, Heresy, “An all-out women-driven, queer, transgender, multiracial takeover of the Old West.” The Secret of You and Me, her seventh novel and her first contemporary women’s fiction novel, was published on August 4, 2020. When Melissa isn’t writing, she’s thinking, “I really should be writing,” and eating Nutella or peanut butter straight out of the jar. A lifelong Texan, she lives in the Dallas area with her husband, two sons, and two Golden Retrievers.
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