Book Blitz: Saving Irene by Judy Alter


SAVING IRENE
A Culinary Mystery
By JUDY ALTER

Cozy Mystery / Women Sleuths 
Publisher: Alter Ego Press
Date of Publication: September 10, 2020
Number of Pages: 208

Scroll down for the giveaway!


Irene Foxglove wishes she were a French chef. Henrietta James, her assistant, knows she is nothing more than a small-time TV chef on a local Chicago channel. And yet when Irene is threatened, Henny tries desperately to save her, wishing always that “Madame” would tell her the truth—about her marriage, her spoiled daughter, her days in France, the man who threatens her. Henny’s best friend, the gay guy who lives next door, teases her, encourages her—and maybe loves her from afar. Murder, kidnapping, and some French gossip complicate this mystery, set in Chicago and redolent with the aroma of fine food. Recipes included.

PRAISE FOR SAVING IRENE

“A nicely convoluted murder mystery and a glorification of America’s diverse cuisines, played out against the attractions of a lovingly drawn Chicago.”—Fred Erisman, In Their Own Words: Forgotten Women Pilots of Early Aviation 

“You’ll find yourself cheering for Henny James as she works beyond her job description as prep assistant to save her boss, Irene Foxglove, glamorous local French-ish TV chef.”—Kaye George, Deadly Sweet Tooth (Vintage Sweets Mysteries Book 2)

“Get lost in the beauty of Chicago and the intrigue of a Texas girl making her way in the world . . . You won’t see the end coming.”—Mary Dulle, avid cozy fan

CLICK TO PURCHASE






After an award-winning career writing historical fiction about women of the nineteenth-century American West, Judy Alter turned her attention to contemporary cozy mysteries: the Kelly O’Connell Mysteries and Blue Plate Café Mysteries. Her avocation is cooking, and she is the author of Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, Gourmet on a Hot Plate, and Texas is Chili Country

Born in Chicago, she has made her home in Fort Worth for over fifty years. Judy is also a proud Scot, a member of Clan MacBean. One trip to the Highlands convinced her that is where her heart is, and she longs to write a novel set in Scotland.

Judy is an active member of Sisters in Crime, Guppies, Story Circle Network, Women Writing the West, and the Texas Institute of Letters. When she is not writing, she is busy with seven grandchildren and a lively poodle/border collie cross.

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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! 
THREE WINNERS: Autographed paperback copies of Saving Irene. 
October 9-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)
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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR.

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Blog Tour: I AM JAX, PROTECTOR OF THE RANCH by Catherine Stier

I AM JAX, 
PROTECTOR OF THE RANCH 
and 
I AM AVA, 
SEEKER IN THE SNOW
A Dog’s Day Series, Books 1 and 2
By CATHERINE STIER
Illustrated by Francesca Rosa
Animals / Adventure / Farm Life / Ranch Life / Chapter Books 
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 96
Scroll down for the giveaway!
Spend a day in the life of a livestock guardian dog! Jax the Great Pyrenees has a big job. After the Texas sun goes down, it’s up to him and two other LGDs to protect their ranch from predators. But when the lead dog gets hurt, Jax and a young pup are the only ones left to protect the flock through the night. Told from the dog’s perspective, this story also includes back matter about the breed and role of the working dog.
        CLICK TO PURCHASE
Spend a day in the life of an avalanche rescue dog! Ava is a chocolate Labrador retriever with a big job. She and her handler have trained for years to be ready to help people at their ski resort if an unexpected avalanche hits. But Ava quickly finds out there’s much more to being an avy dog than daring rescues. Told from the dog’s perspective, this riveting story also includes back matter about the breed and the role of the working dog.
       CLICK TO PURCHASE

As a lifelong Texan and lover of chapter books with Dogs as main characters, I absolutely loved this book!  In the vein of Hank the Cowdog or Charlie the Ranch Dog, I Am Jax:  Protector of the Ranch is a wonderful addition from a fabulous author!  Jax is a Great Pyrenees, working on a ranch and guarding livestock.  Jax is a Livestock Guardian Dog, LGD, which is an incredibly important job. 

I asked my 8 year old to read along with me, which was a great bonding experience!  He is getting introduced to chapter books, so this was a perfect book to read together!  His favorite character was Jax, who was brave and responsible.  He gave this book two thumbs up!  His favorite chapter is Chapter 2, when the reader is introduced to the guard dogs and the flock.  He loved learning about Livestock Guardian Dogs and the breeds of dogs featured in the book!

I really enjoyed Jax, Bev, and the other dogs and sheep.  The story flowed seamlessly and was easy to understand for both my son and I.  We learned about bravery, having courage in the face of danger, and responsibility for others.  These are all lessons and messages that are important for young people to learn!  Jax is a wonderful character to convey these messages to emerging readers!

The illustrations are wonderfully done and very descriptive!  The illustrations highlighted and enhanced the narrative as Jax navigated the protection detail for the flock.  This is a great book for emerging readers and I would recommend it to parents and teachers for their children/students.  This would make a great birthday gift for a child or a gift for a teacher’s classroom!

I thoroughly enjoyed I Am Jax:  Protector of the Ranch!  Another book in this series is I am Ava:  Seeker in the Snow!  Thank you to the folks at Lone Star Book Blog Tours and author Catherine Stier for the opportunity to read this book and share it with everyone!

Catherine Stier, a former Midwesterner, now lives deep in the heart of Southwest Texas, on the edge of the beautiful Hill Country. Her children’s books have received honors and awards from the Society of School Librarians International, the International Reading Association, and the Bank Street College of Education. Stier has served as a frequent contributor to Woman’s Day Magazine and as a newspaper columnist. Her work has also appeared in Highlights for Children, My Friend, Child Life, and several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the San Antonio Express-News. Stier’s lively and interactive Author’s Visit programs have entertained, educated, and inspired thousands of children. Visit Catherine Stier’s website at www.catherinestier.com for more information, activities, and free curriculum guides.
Facebook ║ Twitter Instagram ║ Amazon ║ Website
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! 
ONE WINNER: Hardcover copy of I Am Jax, Protector of the Ranch (Book 1), hardcover copy of I Am Ava, Seeker in the Snow (Book 2), $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop, stuffed animal – adorable “Ava” Lab dog toy, dog stickers, dog socks.  
September 17-27, 2020 
(US ONLY)
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
9/17/20
BONUS Post
9/17/20
Review Jax
9/18/20
Character Interview
9/19/20
Review Ava + BONUS Jax Review
9/20/20
Jax Scrapbook
9/21/20
Ava Scrapbook
9/22/20
Review Jax
9/23/20
Review Ava
9/24/20
Sneak Peek Jax
9/25/20
Review Jax
9/26/20
Review Ava
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Book Blitz: A Vote Is a Powerful Thing by Catherine Stier

A VOTE IS A 
POWERFUL THING
By CATHERINE STIER
Illustrated by Courtney Dawson
Children’s Picture Book / American Historical Fiction / Elections and Voting 
Ages 4-7 
Date of Publication: September 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 32
Scroll down for the giveaway!
Callie knows there’s a presidential election coming up, and people will soon vote to decide the country’s leader. 
Her class is having an election too, about an issue that affects them all–the class field trip. Should they choose the cookie factory or the wilderness park? 
Join Callie as she campaigns for the wilderness park she loves and learns how people have organized, marched, and protested for the right to vote. And find out how a vote–even just one vote–can make a difference!
PRAISE FOR A VOTE IS A POWERFUL THING
“Gets the job done.” ―Kirkus Reviews 
“A galvanizing read for children interested in politics or parents who hope to instill such interests.” ―Publishers Weekly
CLICK TO PURCHASE
Catherine Stier is the author of several awarding-winning children’s books. Her titles include If I Were President, If I Ran for President, If I Were a Park Ranger, and the A Dog’s Day chapter-book series. In grade school, Catherine ran a class campaign for student council with handmade signs, and, although she didn’t win, she found the process exciting! She went on to earn an MA in reading and literacy from the University of Texas at San Antonio and has conducted children’s literature research. She now resides with her husband in San Antonio and volunteers at a local wilderness park.
Facebook ║ Twitter ║ Instagram ║ Amazon ║ Website
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! 
ONE WINNER: Copies of each of the three election-series books; patriotic socks, button, and pencils; plus a $15 gift card to The Twig Book Shop. 
September 4-10, 2020 
(US ONLY)
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR.
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Blog Tour: Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel and Oliver Dominguez

NACHO’S NACHOS
The Story Behind the 
World’s Favorite Snack
by
Sandra Nickel
Illustrated by 
Oliver Dominguez
Genre: Picture Book / Nonfiction / Food History / Latinx Interest  
Publisher: Lee & Low Books 
Publication Date: August 11, 2020 
Number of Pages: 32
 Scroll down for the giveaway!
NACHO’S NACHOS is the deliciously true story about how nachos were invented—about what happened when a regular customer asked Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya for something new, and there were no chefs in the kitchen. 
2020 is the eightieth anniversary of the invention, and Oliver Dominguez’s illustrations transport us back to the border of the Rio Grande in 1940, when Nacho’s quick thinking resulted in a snack now eaten everywhere from Texas to Paris to Hong Kong!
CLICK TO PURCHASE:
  Amazon ┃ Barnes & Noble  IndieBound ┃ Book Depository     

I am excited to say that in my family, we love nachos!  They are a favorite treat for dinner and I was fascinated to learn about the history of this incredible dish.  Though it is simply made, nachos had their beginning in Ignacio Anaya’s Victory Club.  This picture book follows Ignacio from childhood to his invention of nachos with easy to follow prose.  My son and I read this book together and exercised critical thinking skills to draw conclusions from the book.

Some of our favorite moments included the pages devoted to Nacho’s initial invention of the dish and the inclusion of the original recipe!  This story is compelling and a fun celebration of the Mexican heritage of nachos.  The artwork is beautiful throughout the book.  There are vivid images of the 1950s aesthetic with classic cars, glamorous fashion, and intricate depth.  The illustrations jump off the page and enhance the narrative throughout the book! 

Being a historian, I am so glad to see history manifested this way in such a wonderful title!  The afterword details the author’s process for writing and her methodical research into Nacho’s story.  We will be making nachos according to the original recipe in our house before the next week is over!  I would recommend this book to parents of young readers, teachers, and fans of nachos!  This truly is an inspiring book that I would love to share with my fellow parents of young readers!

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along for this tour!  Thank you also to the publisher, Author Sandra Nickel, and Illustrator Oliver Dominguez!  Enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post and visit all of the other stops on this tour to see a scrapbook page, guest posts, an author interview, and so much more! 

Sandra Nickel writes books and poetry for young readers. In 2020 and 2021, she has three books coming out: Nacho’s Nachos: The Story Behind the World’s Favorite Snack (Lee & Low), The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe (Abrams), and Breaking Through the Clouds: The Sometimes Turbulent Life of Meteorologist Joanne Simpson (Abrams). Sandra’s poetry can be found in SCOOP magazine. 
Sandra holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has presented workshops on writing for children and young adults throughout Europe and the United States. Sandra has twice won the Katherine Paterson Prize for picture books.
  Website Blog  Facebook Instagram Twitter  Amazon  Goodreads 
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
FIVE WINNERS!  
3 Winners: Print Copy + Recipe Card; 2 Winners: Recipe Card. 
AUGUST 20-30, 2020 
(US ONLY)
CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE 
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
8/20/20
Author Interview
8/20/20
Sneak Peek
8/21/20
Review
8/21/20
Guest Post
8/22/20
Review
8/23/20
Author Interview
8/24/20
Review
8/25/20
Review
8/25/20
Scrapbook Page
8/26/20
Guest Post
8/27/20
Review
8/28/20
Review
8/28/20
Top Ten
8/29/20
Review
8/29/20
Review
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Blog Tour: The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo #LSBBT

THE BLACK MIDNIGHT
by
Kathleen Y’Barbo
Genre: Fiction / Historical Mystery / True Crime  
Publisher: Barbour Books 
Publication Date: August 1, 2020 
Number of Pages: 257
 Scroll down for the giveaway!
Two killers, two detectives, and a menace called The Black Midnight may be the death of both of them. Three years before Jack the Ripper began his murderous spree on the streets of London, a killer struck fear into the hearts of the citizens of Austin, Texas. Some believe one man is responsible for both, while others lay the blame at the feet of someone close to the queen herself. With suspicion falling on Her Majesty’s family and Scotland Yard at a loss as to who the Ripper might be, Queen Victoria summons her great-granddaughter, Alice Anne von Wettin, a former Pinkerton agent who worked the unsolved Austin murders case, and orders her to discreetly form a team to look into the London matter. One man is essential to her team, and she doesn’t want to consider taking on this challenge without his expertise. Unfortunately, he’s back in Texas, with a bad attitude and a new profession. 
The prospect of a second chance at catching the man who terrorized Austin three years ago just might entice Isaiah Joplin out of his comfortable life as an Austin lawyer, even if it does mean working with the Queen’s great-granddaughter again. If his theories are right, they’ll find the Midnight Assassin and, by default, the Ripper. If they’re wrong, he and Annie are in a bigger mess than the one the lady detective left behind when she departed Austin under cover of darkness three years ago. 
Can the unlikely pair find the truth of who is behind the murders before they are drawn into the killer’s deadly game? From Texas to London, the story navigates the fine line between truth and fiction as Annie and Isaiah ultimately find the hunters have become the hunted.
PRAISE for The Black Midnight: 
“Warning! Don’t read this historical romantic suspense at night!” DiAnn Mills, Expect an Adventure 
“Impeccably researched with sparkling dialogue and riveting history, Kathleen Y’Barbo’s The Black Midnight puts a pair of star-crossed Pinkerton detectives on the trail of a Texas killer who may also be the notorious Jack the Ripper. Very highly recommended and sure to keep you reading well past your bedtime!!” Colleen Thompson, RITA-nominated author of Deadly Texas Summer 
“You’re in for a wild ride as Kathleen Y’Barbo takes you on a story through some of America and Britain’s grisliest murders and somehow manages to weave in a delicious romance. From Texas to London, the ties that bind may be more linked than you previously believed. Settle in for a novel of suspense and romancejust be sure to look over your shoulder every now and then!” Jaime Jo Wright, 2018 Christy Award-winning author of The House on Foster Hill and 2020 Inspy Award-nominated The Curse of Misty Wayfair
CLICK TO PURCHASE:

The Black Midnight is a thrilling crime novel with a hint of romance, a large helping of intrigue, and a transatlantic mystery from Kathleen Y’Barbo!  The narrative follows Alice Anne, Annie, a pedigreed Pinkerton agent with strong ties to the British Royal Family.  Annie is asked to investigate a string of murders in London.  She works to assemble her team of operatives for the case and travels to Austin, Texas to seek the help of Isaiah “Ike” Joplin, a former associate and almost lover.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel!  It was my first book by this author, but I will be seeking out other works to fill my shelves!  I found Annie to be an incredibly intelligent, competent, and deliciously witty character!  Isaiah was just the right amount of rough and tumble and loveable.  The author struck a delicate balance between mystery, suspense, and romance.  As a historian, I love novels that instill a love of history in their readers.  I felt this novel provided a great amount of detail, while also providing an entertaining narrative.  The twin mysteries of Jack the Ripper in London and the Midnight Assassin in Austin are compelling and expertly woven through the story.  The pacing is great and I really can’t find anything that I disliked about this book.  This was a treat to read and oh so interesting!

Some historical fiction can be dry or too romance-y, but his novel has the exact right amount of detail and romance to break out of those problems that typically plague this genre.  Kathleen Y’Barbo is a fantastic author and this is a great addition to the True Colors series!  I would recommend this novel and series to fans of Genevieve Cogman’s Invisible Library series (female detective/spy with a hint of romance) or a more modern sleuth series like the Kate Carpenter series by Vanessa Robertson!  Thank you to Kathleen Y’Barbo, Barbour Books, and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along! 

Bestselling author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee and author of more than eighty books, with almost two million in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. Kathleen celebrated her fifteenth year as a published author by receiving the Romantic Times Inspirational Romance Book of the Year Award for Sadie’s Secret, a Secret Lives of Will Tucker novel. Her novels celebrate life, love, and the Lord—and whenever she can manage it, her home state of Texas. Recent releases include The Pirate Bride, River of Life, and My Heart Belongs in Galveston, Texas.
  Website Bookbub  Facebook Instagram ║ Amazon  Goodreads 
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
FIVE WINNERS!  One Winner: Signed copy of The Black Midnight + $20 Amazon gift card 
Four Winners: Signed copy of The Black Midnight 
AUGUST 6-16, 2020 
(US ONLY)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
8/6/20
Notable Quotable
8/6/20
BONUS Post
8/7/20
Author Interview
8/8/20
Review
8/9/20
Excerpt
8/10/20
Excerpt
8/11/20
Review
8/12/20
Guest Post
8/13/20
Review
8/14/20
Author Interview
8/15/20
Review
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#LSBBT – Enemies of Doves by Shanessa Gluhm Blog Tour

ENEMIES OF DOVES
by
Shanessa Gluhm
Genre: Historical Fiction / Mystery Publisher: TouchPoint Press Publication Date: March 20, 2020 Number of Pages: 324 pages Scroll down for the giveaway!
Told in alternating timelines from World War II to 1992, debut author Shanessa Gluhm’s Enemies of Doves is a tale of family secrets, jealousy, and deception perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Katherine Webb. On a summer night in 1932, twelve-year-old Joel Fitchett wanders into an East Texas diner badly beaten and carrying his unconscious brother, Clancy. Though both boys claim they have no memory of what happened, the horrific details are etched into their minds as deep as the scar left across Joel’s face. Thirteen years later, both men still struggle with the aftershocks of that long-ago night and the pact they made to hide the truth. When they find themselves at the center of a murder investigation, they make a decision that will change everything. A second lie, a second pact, and, for a time, a second chance. In 1991 college student Garrison Stark travels to Texas chasing a rumor that Clancy Fitchett is his biological grandfather. Clancy has been missing since 1946, and Garrison hopes to find him and, in doing so, find a family. What he doesn’t expect to discover is a tangle of secrets spanning sixty years involving Clancy, Joel, and the woman they both loved, Lorraine.
PRAISE for Enemies of Doves: Enemies of Doves weaves a timeline of events that makes for compelling reading. It’s an ecological system of interlocking decisions, discoveries, and circumstances that spans some sixty years of love, danger, and revelations.” —D. Donovan, senior reviewer, Midwest Book Review “I’ve read some amazing thriller and suspense stories this year, but Enemies of Doves takes the mid-year prize. I’m not one for dual timelines, but this one was perfection with the fifty-year time-span moving forward in tandem. Garrison’s search will cause time to collide, unlocking a lifetime of secrets, and THE PLOT TWIST OF 2020!” —author Felicia Denise “Shanessa Gluhm is a brilliant writer. I very seldom read a book that I cannot figure out how it will end, but this one literally blew me away!” —Lori Thomas Harrington, author of The Point
CLICK TO PURCHASE:
    

This is a section from an early draft of Enemies of Doves that didn’t make it to publication. It’s a scene where Clancy is rescued from a POW camp. Though my first editor thought the writing was solid, she felt it out of place since there were no other scenes of Clancy in the camp.

 ”My name is Clancy Fitchett,” he said to no one. “Clancy Fitchett.” Here he was only Number 0449, but he would not forget who he was, nor who waited for him. 

There was no food for freeloaders here. But how could he dig trenches when he couldn’t even stand? He couldn’t work without food, but he couldn’t get food until he worked. A paradox his captors didn’t seem to understand. Unless they wanted him to die. He would have if not for other’s kindness. Still, it was hard for anyone to be overly generous with only a cup of soup and bowl of rice per day. Clancy avoided pools of water, broken glass, anything that showed his reflection. But if he looked like the other prisoners, he was a skeleton. Could explain why he was always so damn cold. Middle of summer, but the cold shook his core. He checked his leg. How was it worse? The ulcer had rotted away all the surrounding skin now, exposing the bone. If the hunger didn’t kill him, this might.

 Supposedly the war had ended, but Clancy saw no changes here indicating it to be true. But over now, or over later, he wouldn’t die, not after he had survived. Not after the blows responsible for broken bones nor the maggot infested diet responsible for his bleeding gums and leaky gut. At least the smell from the bucket beside the cotton pad they called a bed kept his captors away. A bed. Besides Lorraine and a hot meal nothing sounded better.

These conditions killed many stronger than himself. Death was normal now. Digging graves felt little different from washing dishes. Yet number 0449 was alive. Clancy Fitchett was alive. He just had to stay positive. Mind over matter. Lorraine over matter. She was out there, waiting for him. He felt so removed from his former life that memories slipped away daily. But he would not forget her; her memory sustained him.

            No war lasted forever. And when this one ended, a whole life awaited him. A life with a soft mattress, with ice cubes floating in clean water, with a doctor skilled to fix his leg. A real one, not the witch doctor who oversaw care here.

            Clancy tried to force his heavy eyes open. He worried if he closed them, they might stay that way forever. But staying awake seemed as impossible as standing did. He felt himself slipping. Into sleep or away from this world, he never knew.

            He dreamed he was a boy at Yankee Stadium. A childhood fantasy fulfilled. Before him, the brilliant green diamond, beside him a soda and box of Cracker Jacks. Maybe this was heaven.

Going, going gone! The crowd cheered as Lou Gehrig ran the bases. It grew so loud; Clancy covered his ears. The cheers still rang out when he opened his eyes. The sound disorienting in a place like this. Someone burst through the door, further jolting him. Clancy raised his head, still trying to transition from his dream world to the real world.

“George? What’s going on?”

 “The Brits, that’s what’s going on. Or rather, what’s coming down.”

            The words didn’t make sense. George knelt beside him. “Did you hear me, Fitchett? The British are here. Coming down in parachutes! Got food and medicine with them. But the best thing they got? Good news. War’s over, it’s really over!”

            Clancy sat up, the pain assuring him he wasn’t still dreaming. George made a choking noise when he noticed Clancy’s leg. “I’ll get you help.” He covered the wound with the blanket. “Hold on, Fitchett. We’ll be home in time to watch the leaves turn orange. See if we won’t!”

            Clancy wasn’t thinking about orange leaves, just Lorraine in her orange dress as he forced himself to stand. He only took one step before the collapsed. “My name is Clancy Fitchett,” he said from the ground. “I am alive.”

            George found him a few minutes later. “What the hell?  Help’s coming. Let’s get you back in bed.”

            “No!” Clancy’s muscles tightened in readiness. “I’m getting out of here.”

 “Not today, bud. You need your rest. It’ll be a long road home.”

Clancy knew his friend was trying to help, but he shoved his hand away. George was right, it would be a long road home, but Clancy had taken the first step, and he wouldn’t go backward, not ever again.

Shanessa Gluhm works as a librarian at an elementary school in New Mexico, where she lives with her husband and children. It was during her own elementary days when a teacher encouraged Shanessa to write and share stories with the class. She hasn’t stopped writing since. Enemies of Doves is her debut novel. 
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GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!
TWO WINNERS!  1st: Signed Copy + $20 Amazon Card 2nd: eBook  JULY 28-August 7, 2020 (US ONLY)
FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY, 
or visit the blogs directly:
7/28/20
Playlist
7/28/20
BONUS Post
7/29/20
Top Ten List
7/30/20
Review
7/31/20
Review
8/1/20
Author Interview
8/2/20
Scrapbook Page
8/3/20
Review
8/4/20
Deleted Scene
8/5/20
Review
8/6/20
Review
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Blog Tour: All Things Left Wild by James Wade #LSBBT

ALL THINGS LEFT WILD
by
James Wade
Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Publication Date: June 16, 2020 Number of Pages: 304 pages Scroll down for the giveaway!
After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill.  Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice. Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul. PRAISE for All Things Left Wild: “A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but — like All Things Left Wild — not without hope.” — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen “James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry.” — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn
CLICK TO PURCHASE:   Amazon ┃ BookPeople ┃ Bookshop.orgIndieBound     

All Things Left Wild is a stunning debut novel from James Wade, bringing together classical western elements and unique storytelling that will enchant readers!  Told in alternating point of views, the story follows Caleb, a boy caught in turmoil and struggling with his own demons, and Randall, the man charged with hunting down Caleb for terrible crimes.  This juxtaposition reminds me of classic Western novels and writers, like Lonesome Dove and Louis L’Amour.  As someone raise on John Wayne movies and wild west tales, I found the narrative to be tightly woven and very topical.

Author James Wade’s writing is stylistically unique and has a distinct poetic influence.  The tone in which both Caleb and Randall are written is also distinctly different, which enhances the overall effectiveness of the stories of these two characters. The plot ramps up, building tension with each chapter and doesn’t lose momentum.  The craft and care that the author employs in this novel would have you believe that this is not a debut!

The descriptions of the southwest landscape, dusty towns with saloons, huge swaths of desert, and the perils of the natural world, really bring the story to life.  I am often driving near the southern edge of the Palo Duro Canyon and I travel to New Mexico frequently.  In my future travels, I will remember the visceral experience of reading All Things Left Wild!  I would recommend this book to adult readers who enjoy western adventure tales or coming of age in the west stories. 

Thank you so much to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for a complimentary copy of this book!  This is my honest review.  Enter the giveaway below to win a signed copy of All Things Left Wild and see all of the great stops on this tour!

James Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.
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Guest Post: Author Valerie Fraser Luesse on How to Write a Book – The Key to Everything Blog Tour

THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
by
Valerie Fraser Luesse Contemporary Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352
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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget. Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from WWII a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon, and distancing himself from his son. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended. Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.
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How to Write a Book

Valerie Fraser Luesse

Most of us feel like we have a novel or a memoir inside of us, and now is as good a time as any to find out.

I’ve been a magazine writer for most of my adult life (I predate email at Southern Living), but it wasn’t until 2018 that my first novel, Missing Isaac, was published. I started writing it in 2009. You can do the math on that journey, which was long, with all kinds of twists and turns, ups and downs. I learned a thing or two, which I’m happy to share if you’re thinking about taking the plunge.

Start with what you know and what you love.

I will never set a novel in eighteenth-century France because my knowledge of French culture is limited, and I’m not especially interested in eighteenth-century history. If you aspire to fiction writing, you will be spending a lot of time wherever you set your story. You need to be completely fascinated with that place and time, or you’ll get bored before you finish, and you’ll struggle with authenticity. For me, the South is the most interesting place on Earth, so that’s where I set my stories. I find the past more fascinating than the present, so I tend toward periods from World War II through the 1960s. And I think some of the most interesting stories I’ve ever heard were told to me by my parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles—our family’s oral history. I’ve brought those stories into my books more than once.

Let time and place lead character and plot.

Once you know where and when your story takes place, you know a lot about the characters—real or fictional. When and where we live shapes everything from what we wear and what we eat to how we talk. I don’t think I could ever create a character in a void, without knowing their when and where.

Realize that everybody’s exotic to somebody.

Whether you’re writing fiction or memoir, know that what’s familiar and everyday to you can be intriguing to readers from someplace else. If you’re from the South, you can just open your mouth and attract a crowd anyplace outside our region. It’s the same with storytelling. You bring your own experience and culture to a book, and the more aware you are of what makes it unique, the more you can tap into it.

Accept that a big part of writing is listening.

The best writers are great listeners. They hear not just what people say but how they say it. For example, my Alabama mama doesn’t say, “I’m exhausted.” Mama says, “I am just give out.” Hear the difference?

Know that writing a book and marketing a book are two different things.

My own feeling is that you should sit down to write with only one thing in mind: telling a great story. Everything else—who will publish it, who will read it—those are things you can’t control, at least not in the beginning. But you can control the quality of your story. That’s where you should focus. Write, rewrite, repeat. Show to a few friends you trust to be objective and honest. And ignore any website that guarantees a bestseller—for a price.

Fear not.

At conferences and other events, I’ve talked with readers who said they really wanted to write a book but were afraid it wouldn’t be any good. Here’s the thing: it won’t be. Not on the first draft, anyway. But you can write as many drafts as you want to. And here’s the other thing: nobody gets to see it until you say so. You will never be more in control of anything in your life than a story you haven’t let anyone else see. So there’s nothing to be afraid of. Just enjoy the freedom and the ownership you have during the creative process.

Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave. 
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Book Blog Tour & Giveaway – The Outlaw’s Daughter (Haywire Brides #3) by Margaret Brownley #LoneStarLit #LSBBT

THE OUTLAW’S DAUGHTER

HAYWIRE BRIDES, BOOK 3

by
MARGARET BROWNLEY
Western / Historical Fiction / Clean & Wholesome Romance Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca Date of Publication: May 26, 2020 Number of Pages: 384
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He may be a Texas Ranger, but he only has eyes for the outlaw’s beautiful daughter . . .  Texas Ranger Matt Taggert is on the trail of a wanted man. He has good reason to believe that Ellie-May’s late husband was involved in a stagecoach robbery, and he’s here to see justice done. But when he arrives in town, he discovers the thief has become a local hero . . . and his beautiful young widow isn’t too happy to see some lawman out to tarnish her family’s newly spotless reputation. 
Ellie-May’s shaken by her encounter with the ranger. Having grown up an outlaw’s daughter, she’ll do anything to keep her children safe—and if that means hardening her heart against the handsome lawman’s smiles, then so be it. Because she knows Matt isn’t about to give up his search. He’s out to redeem himself and find proof that Ellie-May’s husband wasn’t the saint everyone claims . . . even if it means losing the love neither expected to discover along the way.
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This is the third installment of the Haywire Brides series by author, Margaret Brownley.  Though I had not read any of her other works, I can tell from the finely crafted prose that Margaret is a fantastic author!  Romance is not my genre of choice, but this novel combines history, Texas Spirit, a little bit of mystery, and a healthy dose of elegantly written romance that made my heart soar!  This novel can be read as a standalone, though I would recommend reading the other two novels because this was so well done!

The first few chapters set up the narrative:  a widowed mother, struggling to get by after the death of her husband and a Texas Ranger asking about her late husband around town, attempting to implicate him in a stage coach robbery.  Brownley includes the little details that shaped their lives until this point, from the death of parents when they were young, to personal tragedy, or accusations of crimes that were never committed.  These details are woven into the narrative with such ease that the reader is already engrossed in the story while picking up these small pieces of information.  I enjoyed Ellie-May’s character development and I felt I could really see the world through her eyes throughout the book.  Each of the characters, even those who appear briefly, have a depth to them that I so appreciated as a reader!  Ranger Taggert is not just a tough cowboy seeking justice, he’s also a caring, respectful man who wants to do his job and ensure the safety of Ellie-May and her children.  Each character has a similar range of depth and I thoroughly enjoyed them!

Another thing I enjoyed was the conflict.  The struggle in this story always feels organic, from snake bites to allegations of criminal activity to raids on the plains.  Some historical romances include conflict that feels forced or out of place, but not this novel!  The author combines well written conflict with beautifully laid out plot to create a narrative that is smooth, interesting, and kept me hooked from start to finish!  At one point, I’d forgotten I was reading a romance novel!

Having studied this time period in history, I didn’t expect for the author to include so many historically accurate details for Texas in 1887.  The author describes the hardships of owning a farm and ranch so accurately.  The Outlaw’s Daughter reads like an old western film, full of grit and surrounded by relics of the wild west! 

This novel is a great introduction to Margaret Brownley’s writing and it is a fun read for the long time fan!  I would recommend this book to any fans of historical romance, particularly western romance!  I really enjoyed this book and will be picking up the previous two books! I would encourage you to grab all three from your favorite retailer!

  
New York Times bestselling author Margaret Brownley has penned more than forty-six novels and novellas. 
A two-time Romance Writers of American RITA® finalist, Margaret has also written for a TV soap and is a recipient of the Romantic Times Pioneer Award. Not bad for someone who flunked eighth-grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence.
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