Part 2 Interview: Stephanie Raffelock, Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women

 
CREATRIX RISING: UNLOCKING THE POWER OF MIDLIFE WOMEN
By Stephanie Raffelock

Categories: Nonfiction / Self Help Memoir
Publisher: She Writes Press
Pub Date: August 24, 2021 
Pages:176 Pages

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From the author of the award-winning book A Delightful Little Book on Aging comes a new self-help memoir Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women. In her new book, Stephanie Raffelock liberates mold-defying midlife women, tired of the oft-inaccurate characterization of the “old crone,” to amplify the resounding strength within.

Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag—useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability.

None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the Creatrix.

In Creatrix Rising, Raffelock lays out—through personal stories and essays—the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted—that women will save the world—proves true, then the Creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.


PRAISE FOR CREATRIX RISING:

“The perfect topic at the perfect time, Stephanie Raffelock’s self-help memoir, Creatrix Rising, identifies a new archetype, the Creatrix, that transcends the old archetype of Crone. Her stories and insights about how far women have come is nothing short of inspirational. A must-read for any woman who wants to embrace the strength and creativity of midlife.” -Marci Shimoff, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Happy for No Reason and Chicken Soup for the Women’s Soul

“Poetic and philosophical, Creatrix Rising will inspire readers to claim the courage and confidence that already lives inside of them. An intimate story of transformation, of journeying through life on your own terms without apology.”
Richard Blanco, 2013 Presidential Inaugural Poet and author of How to Love a Country

“The new archetype Stephanie Raffelock assigns to midlife women underscores the assets and wisdom older women bring to our culture and to the greater good. Creatrix Rising is an affirmation and celebration of the feminine story taking place in leadership and creativity throughout our country.”
Gabby Reese, volleyball legend, Nike’s first female spokeswoman, and New York Times best-selling author

Click To Purchase:
Amazon ~ Indiebound ~ Bookshop.org

Link To The Book Trailer On YouTube

Interview with Stephanie Raffelock

Part 2 of 2

(Originally featured on Books Forward, August 2021)

Some women actually fear getting older. How did you personally learn to celebrate aging?

I start by saying “thank you,” every morning when I wake. Gratitude is a good platform for any change. There’s so much to enjoy and appreciate about aging — maturity, reflectiveness, contemplation. There’s a reason that nature keeps us alive after midlife. No longer necessary for the proliferation of the species, our purpose now becomes more internal, focused on the horizon where the veil floats between life and death. All of life and its cycles is astounding and remarkable. Let yourself be curious. Let yourself be awed. Let yourself appreciate the joy of breathing, walking, feeling… Let yourself practice thankfulness.

How does your book incorporate stories from women in your family? Why was it important for you to share their stories?

We can’t know ourselves, without knowing the women who came before us. My mother, grandmother and great-grandmother are all in my DNA. They all had struggles and celebrations, and each of them in their own way passed a light onto me that represents my ideals and ideas about being a woman. This is true in every family. Feminist history isn’t just something that happens outside of ourselves; it is alive in ourselves and in our families.

Which well-known women who embody the Creatrix archetype?

Ruth Bader-Ginsberg comes to mind as do Meryl Streep, Twyla Tharp, Stacey Abrams, Jennifer Aniston — and these are just a few. All around us, women are shining and thriving in the arts, in business and in leadership. And, of course, I have to put Vice President Kamala Harris on this list, who embodies the Creatrix with her strength, vision, courage and grace.

How does “Creatrix Rising” build on the concepts you wrote about in “A Delightful Little Book on Aging?” Was your approach to writing this book different? How so?

“Creatrix Rising” is an expansion on my thoughts about aging that began in “A Delightful Little Book on Aging,” but this time, beginning with midlife. There is a huge inner shift and right of passage for women at midlife. As for my approach to writing the book — it’s the same, I try to tell my story with as much honesty as I can so that it is relatable to the hearts of others.

How do you uplift women in your local community in Austin, Texas?

I went to Naropa University to study writing and poetics. It was there that I was given the opportunity to do community outreach with my writing. My first outreach was teaching poetry to girls in a group home. I fell in love with the idea of teaching creative writing to marginalized groups that might not otherwise have the luxury or opportunity to take a creative writing class. I’ve taught writing in assisted living facilities, group homes and in jails. Here, in Austin I’ve been asked to teach a class for Dress for Success, Austin in personal development through writing. Re-writing the ending to your life is a theme I love to start with, and I can’t wait for that class at Dress for Success, Austin.

Some say age is but a number, but it often feels like more than that. Why is it that age holds such significance to us?

Age is more than just a number. It’s a badge of honor to have lived long enough to know that the life in front of us is far shorter than the life we’ve already lived. To that end, these years seem more precious, more miraculous and certainly more deserving of our very best selves.


Stephanie Raffelock is the author of Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women, (She Writes Press – August, 2021). She also penned the award winning book, A Delightful Little Book on Aging.

A graduate of Naropa University’s program in Writing and Poetics, Stephanie was a contributor to The Rogue Valley Messenger in Oregon. She has blogged for Nexus Magazine, Omaha Lifestyles, Care2.com, as well as SixtyandMe.com.

A former i-Heart Radio host, she is now a popular guest on podcasts, where she inspires women to embrace the strength and passion of their personal story. Stephanie continues to build her speaker’s resume by giving presentations for groups like The Ashland Literary Arts Festival, Breaking the Glass, WINS at Charles Schwab and Southern Oregon University, Friends of the Hannon Library. Her commitment to uplift women extends to teaching personal development classes for incarcerated women and non-profits, including Dress for Success, Austin.

A recent transplant to Austin, Texas Stephanie enjoys an active life with her husband, Dean, and their Labrador retriever, Mickey Mantel Raffelock.

Website | Goodreads | Instagram | Facebook | LinkedIn

Continue reading “Part 2 Interview: Stephanie Raffelock, Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women”

Blog Tour: Crude Ambition by Patricia Hunt Holmes


CRUDE AMBITION
by
Patricia Hunt Holmes

Categories: Mystery / Thriller / Women’s Fiction
Publisher: River Grove Books (Greenleaf Book Group)
Date of Publication: June 8, 2021
Number of Pages: 326

Scroll down for the giveaway!


  

A Texas Reckoning

In the early morning hours after a law firm recruiting party at a beachside house on Galveston Island, a female summer intern is found lying on the floor, bruised, bleeding and unconscious.  Four men and one young woman attorney who were staying at the house know something terrible happened. 

The woman attorney takes her to a hospital but the next day the intern disappears. All of them decide to keep silent, doing nothing about the incident in order to further their own career ambitions while the events of that night haunt the two women.  Time passes and then ten years later, crime and hubris bring the former intern back into their lives.  Only this time she has the power and the truth is finally brought to light, uprooting everyone’s plans. 

From the power centers of Houston law and oil to the fracking fields of South Texas to the Jersey Shore and Washington D.C., this story chronicles the struggles of two ambitious young women in their quest for legal success and justice. 

 

PRAISE FOR CRUDE AMBITION: 

“Crude Ambition is a great read.  It is an authentic look at big law in Houston and the Texas oil business.  Patricia Hunt Holmes weaves a story of ambition, greed, romance and revenge that kept me turning the pages until all the just desserts were served.” 

— Marc Grossberg, J.D., Author of The Best People: A Tale of Trials and Errors 

“In Crude Ambition, Patricia Hunt Holmes shows she knows Texas in the way Grisham knows Mississippi—politics, environment, strong men and strong women, egos, oil, arrogance, influence and hunger for power.  I don’t think anyone could have nailed it better.” 

— Bill Sarpalius, Former U.S. Congressman, Author of The Grand Duke of Boys’ Ranch  

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This review is hard to begin because my brain is overwhelmed by how much I loved this book!  I may sound like a broken record, but once again, this was a 5 star hit out of the park!  This book is almost a twist on The Firm with a nefarious law firm, a dangerous clientele, and so much intrigue!  I particularly loved the strong female characters that were the focus of the action and the 1st person narrative style.  The author brings large set pieces and backdrops of Galveston, Houston hot spots, and the surrounding area to focus in the action. 

If I told you that this book has everything you want out of a good thriller, strong characters, intricate plot, fast moving action, a complementary setting, and oh so much drama, you should believe me!  It has all of this and more!  Carolyn and Laura are incredibly smart characters and the author has really put time into researching, understanding, and living in the world that she is writing!  The world of the oil business is a dirty one, with environmental issues, legal challenges, and so many unsavory characters.  I mean, how aptly named was Joe Bill? 

Being from an area that is similar and in a profession that can be dominated by the “boys club”, I relate to this book a little bit more than most.  Though it is a work of fiction, there is some truth to what happens in the story.  There are some MAJOR plot points that will have you on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next page turn.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend to those interested in thrillers, women’s fiction, intellectual stories, and heck, this could even be a beach read!  Just not at a Galveston beach house!

Thank you to the author and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for having me along on this tour!  This is a 5 out of 5 book for me and I am recommending it to all of my friends! 




Patricia Hunt Holmes spent 30 years as a public finance attorney with a large international law firm, specializing in nonprofit healthcare finance and rural electric cooperative finance. Consistently listed in Best Lawyers in America, Texas Super Lawyers, and Top Lawyers in Houston, she was a frequent speaker at national public finance and health care conferences. Patricia has also served on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Columbia, University of Tennessee, and University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She has written and published in the fields of intellectual history and law.  

In addition to her legal career, Patricia has been a member and board member of several social service organizations throughout Houston, including the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast Women’s Initiative, Dress for Success Houston, the University of Houston Women’s Studies Program, University of Houston Law Review Board of Directors, is a Trustee of the Houston Grand Opera, and Houston Justice for Our Neighbors. 

Patricia grew up in Egg Harbor City, New Jersey but has lived in Houston for over 40 years. She has two daughters, Hillary and Ashley, who have successful careers as an attorney and a geologist, and three adorable grandsons. She is an avid golfer and traveler.  

Patricia holds a BA in English and History, an MA in History, and a PhD in Russian and South Asian History with honors, all from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She received her J.D. from the University of Houston Law Center and was an editor on the Houston Law Review. 


Guest Post: Ramona Oliver, Author of Inclined Elders (On Tour Now!)


INCLINED ELDERS

BY RAMONA OLIVER

Publisher: BookBaby
Publication Date: July 24, 2020 
Pages: 246 Pages
Categories: Nonfiction / Positive Aging



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THIS BOOK WILL BE INVALUABLE IF YOU: 

·     Have a desire to continue living a purposeful life, no matter what your age. 

·     Are interested in learning how to maintain a positive attitude from adulthood to elderhood. 

·    Want to learn how to create a living legacy and serve as a role model for future generations. 

 

WHY EMBRACE AN ATTITUDE OF INCLINE? 

For the first time in history we are not only living longer, everyone has an important choice to make: commit to a meaningful, purposeful life of “Incline” as we get older or believe that a new stage – one of steady “decline” – is inevitable. What is not helping is that in the media and society in general there continues the somewhat negative connotation surrounding the concept of aging. And while, at least not now, we cannot do anything about the chronological process of becoming 60, 70, 80 years and beyond, we can change the mindset for it. Embracing change and looking at life with a keener sense of curiosity will lead to living with increased courage to live life to its fullest. 

 

Inclined Elders is a call to action for you to opt for Incline. Not only for your personal fulfillment, but also to help fuel a social “legacy” that increases the number of positive older role models in everyday life. I have written this book to inspire, inform, and challenge you. By the time you reach the last page, I hope you will have made a new choice: to become an inspiring example of a life of Incline so our society relinquishes – once and for all – the notion that aging is synonymous with “decline,” “decrepit,” “senile,” and “over-the-hill.” 

 

In this book over 50 men and women ranging in age from 40 to 100 share their tips and techniques on how to live a life of Incline. Their strategies are supported by scientific evidence from the fields of Positive Psychology, Anthropology, and Sociology. 

 

WHO ARE INCLINED ELDERS? 

We are the women and men who have made a conscious choice to ignore society’s negative mindset of “decline” and “over-the-hill” as we age. Instead we embrace a positive mindset of continuing to Incline and climb ever upwards. 

 

Serving as vibrant role models, the Inclined Elders I spoke to for this book are leaving their own unique legacies of wisdom and inspiration for future generations. There needs to be more of us like them to effect real social change. So why not Incline too? There’s an amazing view from up here. Come with us and see for yourself. 

 

Purchase: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Apple Books

*Paperback Use Coupon: AUG31PB 
*eBook Use Coupon: AUG31EB 


WHO ARE INCLINED ELDERS?

GUEST POST BY RAMONA OLIVER

We are the women and men who have made a conscious choice to ignore society’s negative mindset of “decline” and “over-the-hill” as we age. Instead, we embrace a positive mindset of continuing to Incline and climb ever upwards.

Why, you may ask? Because we intend to live a life of achievement, meaning, and purpose and not allow mere birthdays to get in the way. And an attitude of Incline will permit us—and you—to do this. While birthdays may be the accelerator for aging, don’t let them become the brakes that stop you from continuing to live a full and happy life.

The metaphor of a hill is an apt one to consider as you grapple with the concept of Inclining because hills are surely easier and more enjoyable to climb than steep, lofty mountains. And they still allow for inspiring discoveries and adventures. Some of their pathways may have twists and turns, and there may be the odd bump in the road, but it is important to continue the ascent. Why? Because the vistas on the trek upward are increasingly breathtaking and exhilarating. Inclined Elders know that there is no need to rush; it’s not a race. We take one step at a time so we can pause to smile at the waving wildflowers along the road.

Your attitude determines the potential for your altitude, so a shift in mindset is required, regardless of your age right now. As you awaken to each new day as an Inclined Elder, the sunrise will greet you with a symphony of color applauding your choice to Incline and climb the hill. You will continue to broaden your experience and deepen your joy of life.

This is what has happened for me and the people who shared their stories. Among the fifty plus people ranging in age from 40 to 100 that I spoke to for this book, those with a positive self-perception of aging maintain a more youthful image of themselves.

Serving as vibrant role models, the Inclined Elders I spoke to for this book are leaving their own unique legacies of wisdom and inspiration for future generations. There needs to be more of us like them to effect real social change. So why not Incline too? There’s an amazing view from up here. Come with us and see for yourself.

I look forward to seeing you on the path!

Ramona Oliver has long been a passionate educator with former roles as a human resource manager/director, career coach, and director of outreach for St. Edward’s University. As a human resource director for many years, she championed the professional development of employees. While serving as president of the Austin Human Resource Management Association, she led a team that designed, developed, and implemented an award-wining leadership program. In addition, she launched a workforce readiness committee that partnered with community organizations to implement workforce readiness initiatives. At St. Edward’s University, she promoted lifelong learning and the adult undergraduate and graduate programs to older adults in the Austin community. 

Ramona currently serves as an advocate of positive aging. Rather than accepting a mindset of decline, she is passionate about living life with an attitude of Incline. Ramona has been published on the Changing Aging website, offering posts with titles such as “Can We Please Stop Calling It Aging,” “What Are We Missing When We Settle for Life Stages?” and “Leave a Legacy and Live It Now!”  

Ramona is a recipient of a Book Excellence Award for her current book, INCLINED ELDERS: How to rebrand aging for self and society. It has been recognized for high-quality writing style, book design, and overall marketing appeal. 

She earned her Master of Business Administration from St. Edward’s University. Ramona lives in Austin, Texas where she enjoys practicing yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, and Nia and participating in various community groups. 

Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn 

Twitter | Amazon Author | Goodreads Author

 __________________________________________________________________________

GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

FOUR WINNERS:
 2 winners: autographed copies of 
Inclined Elders. 
2 winners: Kindle copies of 
Inclined Elders.
Giveaway ends midnight, CDT, 7/17/21; US only.

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Click here to visit the LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE
for direct links to each stop on the tour, updated daily. Or, visit the blogs directly: 

7/7/21

Notable Quotable

It’s Not All Gravy

7/7/21

Sneak Peek

The Page Unbound

7/8/21

Review

The Plain-Spoken Pen

7/8/21

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

7/9/21

Author Interview

Chapter Break Book Blog

7/9/21

Review

Book Fidelity

7/10/21

Review

StoreyBook Reviews

7/11/21

Excerpt

All the Ups and Downs

7/12/21

Review

Jennie Reads

7/12/21

Character Interview

Librariel Book Adventures

7/13/21

Guest Post

Book Bustle

7/14/21

Review

Hall Ways Blog

7/14/21

Excerpt

That’s What She’s Reading

7/15/21

Scrapbook Page

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

7/16/21

Review

Reading by Moonlight

7/16/21

Review

Forgotten Winds


 
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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.
 

Blog Tour: A Wall of Bright Dead Feathers by Babette Fraser Hale

A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS
By Babette Fraser Hale
Pages: 216
Pub Date: March 1st, 2021
Categories: Short Stories / Literary Fiction

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Most are newcomers to the scenic, rolling countryside of central Texas whose charms they romanticize, even as the troubles they hoped to leave behind persist. Twelve stories highlight “the book’s recurring theme of desire—for freedom, for clarity, for autonomy, and for personal fulfillment…When women are alone, unencumbered and unbeholden to anyone, they engage in intense internal reflection and show reverence for nature—and during these scenes, Hale’s language is luminescent” (Kirkus Reviews). 
 
 
PRAISE FOR A WALL OF BRIGHT DEAD FEATHERS: 
“Hale shows a great respect for her characters and for the difficulty of their deceptively ordered existence, as well as for the problems they suffer because so much cannot be spoken.” — Francine Prose, on “Silences” 
 

“A vivid set of tales about connection to other people and to the natural world…Hale’s lovely prose shows a keen eye for detail…”  

Kirkus Reviews 

 

Purchase Links: 

Winedale Publishing Brazos Bookstore | Amazon 

 

When I first picked up this book, I knew to expect a collection of stories but I had no idea how entranced I would be!  This collection is so very timely with many of us experiencing some level of grief, a great restlessness from being away from loved ones, and a deep need to be in a calm setting.  I found all of these elements perfectly interwoven through the individual narratives throughout this collection.  Most of the stories feature a person or family who abandon the hustle and bustle of the big city to experience a calmer life in the Hill Country.  The motivations range from grief and loss to needing a change of venue.  Throughout the collection of stories the “fish out of water” motif is repeated, but with incredible skill and beautiful prose.

While reading, I frequently found myself feeling a great sense of sadness, anger, frustration, and peace, sometimes simultaneously!  Honestly, the experience was breathtaking!  This is a fantastic collection of stories that reel you in and don’t let you go until the very end.  The underlying theme through the collection is that of place.   My favorite story is “A Skeptical Parrot”, which features quick time jumps, German freethinkers in Central Texas, the Civil War, and carries a deep sense of place and memory.  I have always been someone who enjoys stories about memory, particularly generational memory.  This story spoke to me in a way and reminded me of my own grandparents, their experiences, their home, and the great sense of place that I felt in their small town.

Overall, I felt a deep emotion connection to this collection of stories and I can certainly see why this author is an award winner!  I found the writing to be excellent and the thematic elements to be very well done.  I would recommend this to readers who are called to stories with a lot of emotional connection!  The cover is gorgeous and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!  Just about 200 pages is a perfect length to read on an afternoon in a sunny place, possibly in a place that reminds you of home!

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and the author for having me along on this tour! 

Babette Fraser Hale’s fiction has won the Meyerson Award from Southwest Review, a creative artist award from the Cultural Arts Council of Houston, and been recognized among the “other distinguished stories” in Best American Short Stories, 2015. Her story “Drouth” is part of the New York Public Library’s digital collection. Her nonfiction has appeared in Texas Monthly, Houston City, and the Houston Chronicle. She writes a personal essay column for the Fayette County Record.  
 

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TWO WINNERS each receive a signed bookplate

+ $20 Brazos Bookstore Gift Card to buy the book 

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Click to visit the Lone Star Literary Life Tour Page  
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3/23/21 

Author Video 

3/23/21 

Excerpt 

3/24/21 

Review 

3/24/21 

BONUS Promo 

3/25/21 

Review 

3/25/21 

Author Interview 

3/26/21 

Review 

3/26/21 

BONUS Promo 

3/27/21 

Excerpt

3/28/21 

Guest Post 

3/29/21 

Review 

3/29/21 

Author Interview 

3/30/21 

Review 

3/31/21 

Review 

3/31/21 

Guest Post 

4/1/21 

Review 

4/1/21 

Review 

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Book Blitz: Aggravated by Michael Sirois

AGGRAVATED
BY MICHAEL SIROIS
 
Publisher: Truth Boots Publishing, LLC
Pages: 389 Pages
Pub Date: December 11, 2020
Categories: True Crime / Criminal Procedural Law
 
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Description: In 2006, the author’s brother, Steve Sirois, was sentenced to serve 35 years in a Texas prison for a horrendous crime, aggravated sexual assault of a child — a crime Steve swore he didn’t commit. After the conviction, Michael started helping Steve write his appeals, but what he saw in the trial transcripts made him question how a jury could have convicted his brother based on that testimony. Steve’s accuser originally gave vague dates for the crime but soon abandoned those dates and even replaced the details of her claims with new ones. There was no forensic evidence, no DNA, no physical evidence of any kind: nothing but his accuser’s words. The author wondered if he could prove that her accusations were false. But how? Using affidavits, court transcripts, and interviews, along with additional evidence from public information requests and other factual data, the book lays out a devastating portrait of an untruthful accuser, an overzealous prosecutor, a jury that made a deal to swap votes in order to gain a conviction, and the series of lies that led to that outcome.
Purchase: Amazon 
Michael Sirois was reading by the age of four and was writing quirky short stories by the third grade. In high school he added acting to his bag of tricks. After graduating from the University of Houston, he taught writing, drama, and technology in the middle school trenches for two decades, but continued to act and write, placing well in competitions like the Writer’s Digest Short Story contest and the HBO Project Greenlight series. His first novel, The Jagged Man, was published in 2015, and a two-book series, If a Butterfly, is slated to be published in late-Spring 2021. After running educational outreach programs at Rice University for seven years, he retired and lives with his wife, Minay, in Spring, Texas, where he is hard at work on a thriller, The Hawthorn’s Sting, and a mystery/thriller, Murder Between Friends, hoping to have a first draft of at least one of them by late-2021. Ideas for a few more are also floating around in that scary place called his brain. Stay tuned.

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FIVE WINNERS receive autographed copies. 

 (US only. Ends midnight, CDT, 3/29/2021) 

 


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Book Review: All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone by John J. Jacobson

ALL THE COWBOYS AIN’T GONE

BY JOHN J. JACOBSON
 
Pages: 352
Pub Date: February 23, 2021
Categories: Historical Fiction / Action Adventure / Western
 
 
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All the Cowboys Ain’t Gone is the rollicking adventure story of Lincoln Smith, a young Texan living at the beginning of the twentieth century, who thinks of himself as the last true cowboy. He longs for the days of the Old West, when men like his father, a famous Texas Ranger, lived by the chivalric code. Lincoln finds himself hopelessly out of time and place in the fast-changing United States of the new century. When he gets his heart broken by a sweetheart who doesn’t appreciate his anachronistic tendencies, he does what any sensible young romantic would do: he joins the French Foreign Legion. 
 
On his way to an ancient and exotic country at the edge of the Sahara, Lincoln encounters a number of curious characters and strange adventures, from a desert hermit who can slow up time to a battle with a crocodile cult that worships the god of death. He meets them all with his own charming brand of courage and resourcefulness. 
 
Purchase: Bookshop.org

As with most books, I try not to read too much of the blurbs or descriptions in an effort to be surprised by what I’m reading.  Though not a usual practice, this has led me to books that completely blow my mind.  This is a book that surprised and enchanted me from the first page!  Not only does it have an intriguing and brilliant cover, this book has all of the things I love:  Cowboys, spying, rollicking adventures, a grandiose imagination, and action by the gallon!  I can’t really nail down what I loved most about this book, which is rare for me.

This novel felt like part Indiana Jones, part James Bond, and part Clint Eastwood western with some Don Quixote mixed in.  Several  other reviewers have commented on the plot evolving into larger battle scenes and unbelievable situations.  I thought this contributed to the charm of the book, of the escapist nature of the narrative.  I found this to be exactly what I needed right now, an escape from reality into an unbelievable world.  Lincoln Smith is a man, born a few years too late, who yearns for adventure and the old way of the world.  He eventually finds it in the French Foreign Legion in Africa.  I loved Lincoln’s adventures and all of the characters he meets along the way.  Princes, comrades, ladies, and more venture with Lincoln through the narrative.

The cover is eye catching, the writing is enticing, and the story will take your breath away!  This is a fast-paced novel that can be read in a couple of sittings, clocking in at around 350 pages.  Though I received a print copy, I am sure that the audio book of this novel would be just as exciting!  Overall, this book has even character development, accelerated pacing, and a narrative that keeps you enthralled from start to finish.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys epic quest literature, turn of the century stories, sweeping epics, or who just need an escape from reality for an afternoon. 

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours, the author, and publisher for having me along on this tour!  I absolutely enjoyed this book and highly recommend it!  Grab a copy today, enter the giveaway below, or visit another LSBBT blog to see other great reviews!

Though John J. Jacobson didn’t join the French Foreign Legion after being jilted by a girlfriend, or over his displeasure of missing the last great cattle drive, he has, borrowing Churchill’s phrase, lived a rather variegated life. He was born in Nevada, grew up in the West, surfed big waves in Hawaii, circled the world thrice, survived the sixties and seventies, corporate America, and grad school. Among other degrees he has an MA in Renaissance literature from Claremont Graduate University. 

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Book Tour: The Earl Lady’s Geologist by Alissa Baxter

The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter

Publication Date: February 28, 2021 Vinspire Publishing Series: Linfield Ladies Series, Book One Genre: Regency Romance     Cassandra Linfield is a lady fossil collector who declares she will never marry as no man will ever take her studies seriously. When circumstances force her to travel to Town for the Season, Cassy infiltrates the hallowed portals of the Geological Society from which she has been banned. She is horrified when she comes face to face with her nemesis, the infuriating Earl of Rothbury. Lord Rothbury is a gentleman-geologist with a turbulent romantic past. After a youthful disappointment he vows never to fall in love again, and makes the decision, instead, to seek out a convenient wife when he returns to England from his geological travels abroad. Brought together by their close family ties, Cassy and Rothbury collaborate on a geological paper and discover a powerful attraction. Marriage, however, is the one subject they cannot agree upon. But when Cassy’s life is threatened, the two realise that love matters more than their objections.

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Praise for The Earl’s Lady Geologist

“A gentle Regency romance, full of sweetness and intelligence. Alissa Baxter’s writing is period perfect.” -Mimi Matthews, USA Today bestselling author of The Matrimonial Advertisement “The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter deftly weaves together the charm of a traditional Regency romance, fascinating information on scientific society of the time, with a quiet subtext about the challenges faced by women interested in pursuing science. This first book in a new series is wonderfully satisfying on many levels!” -Mary Jo Putney, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author “While immersing the reader in the mores and life of the Regency era, Alissa Baxter manages to write strong, independent heroines whom modern-day women will cheer and root for. Plus the addition of little details that wrap around the plot and the characters make reading her books all the more special because you never know when you might land on a little Easter egg morsel in the beautiful and engaging prose. Historicals with heart and engaging characters that read real—that’s what you get in Ms. Baxter’s books.” -Zee Monodee, USA Today bestselling author “A truly traditional Regency romance, with lots of witty banter, very reminiscent of Georgette Heyer. Recommended for anyone who likes a completely clean traditional Regency, with strongly authentic writing, historical accuracy and a satisfying romance. Baxter’s writing is excellent, and her dialogue, manners and settings are true to the era. A spirited heroine, a brooding hero, lots of sparkling banter and an authentic Regency setting—with added fossils! Great fun. From Lyme Regis to the drawing rooms of London, Alissa Baxter takes the reader back to the time of Jane Austen.” Mary Kingswood, author of traditional Regency romances

This is a wonderful historical romance that is so timely!  With the recent popularity of “The Dig” on Netflix and a renewed interest in archeology, this novel combines fantastic elements of historical fiction, archeological/scholarly research, and just a little bit of steamy romance!  Cassandra is a headstrong young woman who is on the verge of freedom to pursue her passions, her studies, and her dreams.  She is determined to follow those dreams and gets into a bit of mischief along the way.

I noticed several reviewers were glad that Cassandra was set apart from most ladies in Regency fiction who normally melt at the sight of a titled gentlemen.  Cassandra has no time for titles or gentle pursuits.  She has a will of her own and won’t be stifled by society.  Be prepared for a slow burn romance with a fair amount of interpersonal conflict and even a bit of danger!  The Earl of Rothbury is a great match for Cassandra, he is a respected geologist with his own opinions of society.  I loved getting to walk with them through the narrative in this book! 

There are a couple of surprises in that this book has many details, little bits of information that make the story even more real, and there are some historical/literary figures sprinkled throughout the narrative!  Given the very interesting subject matter of this book, I was enthralled from the beginning!

This is a perfect novel (first in a series I think!) for fans of Regency/Historical Romance, slow burn romantic novels, archeology, and willful heroines!  I very much enjoyed this book and give it a strong recommendation!  Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours and the author for having me along on this tour!

About the Author

Alissa Baxter was born in a small town in South Africa, and grew up with her nose in a book on a poultry and cattle farm. At the age of eleven she discovered her mother’s collection of Georgette Heyer novels. The first Heyer novel she ever read was Sylvester and she was hooked on Georgette Heyer after that. She read and reread her novels, and fell totally in love with the Regency period and Heyer’s grey-eyed heroes! After school and university, where she majored in Political Science and French, she published her first Regency novel, The Dashing Debutante. Alissa travelled overseas and worked as a flight attendant in Dubai before she moved to England, where she did an odd assortment of jobs while researching her second novel, Lord Fenmore’s Wager, which she wrote when she moved back to South Africa. Alissa’s third Regency novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, is the sequel to Lord Fenmore’s Wager. Alissa has lived in Durban and Cape Town but she eventually settled in Johannesburg where she lives with her husband and two sons. Alissa is also the author of two chick-lit novels, Send and Receive and The Blog Affair, which have been re-released as The Truth About Series: The Truth about Clicking Send and Receive and The Truth About Cats and Bees.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, February 22 Feature at The Lit Bitch Review at Books, Cooks, Looks Review at WTF Are You Reading? Tuesday, February 23 Review at Probably at the Library Review at Chicks, Rogues, and Scandals Wednesday, February 24 Review at Bookish Rantings Thursday, February 25 Review at Gwendalyn’s Books Friday, February 26 Guest Post at Novels Alive Monday, March 1 Review & Excerpt at Bookworlder Tuesday, March 2 Review at Robin Loves Reading Wednesday, March 3 Review at Amy’s Booket List Thursday, March 4 Excerpt at The Tea Queen Review at Pursuing Stacie Friday, March 5 Review at View from the Birdhouse Monday, March 8 Review at Book Bustle Tuesday, March 9 Review at Tangents and Tissues Wednesday, March 10 Review at YA, It’s Lit Thursday, March 11 Review at Older & Smarter Friday, March 12 Excerpt at Hopewell’s Public Library of Life Monday, March 15 Review at Jorie Loves A Story Tuesday, March 16 Excerpt at Heidi Reads Review at Madwoman in the Attic Wednesday, March 17 Review at Historical Fiction with Spirit Thursday, March 18 Review at Read Review Rejoice Friday, March 19 Guest Post at Coffee and Ink Monday, March 22 Review at Books and Zebras Tuesday, March 23 Review at Novels Alive Wednesday, March 24 Feature at I’m Into Books Thursday, March 25 Review at Bitch Bookshelf Friday, March 26 Review at Little But Fierce Book Diary

Giveaway

Enter to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card! The giveaway is open to the US only and ends on February 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter. The Earl’s Lady Geologist https://widget.gleamjs.io/e.js

Book Blitz: Knock! Knock! by Douglas Thompson

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KNOCK! KNOCK!
Lessons Learned and Stories Shared 
by DOUGLAS THOMPSON
Categories: Nonfiction / Motivational Stories / Positivity / Relationship Building / Integrity / Time Management / Entrepreneurship
Publisher: Lucid House Publishing
Date of Publication: January 8, 2021
Pages: 154
 
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Knock! Knock! is a fast-paced, fun-filled journey through the author’s career in sales that not only teaches you how to be better at selling but to also have a ton of fun while you are doing it.
 
Knock! Knock! invites you to join Doug on what salespeople call “a ride along,” which is where a senior salesperson shows a newbie the ropes. This book delivers a winning sales philosophy learned through years of experience and is illustrated by real-life stories that Doug shares — along with multiple Knock-Knock Moments (or lessons and revelations learned) that have fueled his career and that he believes will help yours.
 
Every one of us is in Sales. If you deal with people, you are in sales. Knock! Knock! teaches you how to get out of your Comfort Zone to believe in yourself and to believe in the product, services, or message you are trying to sell. But it also teaches you to have a great time while you are doing it.
 
 

Purchase: Amazon | Main Street Reads

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Douglas Thompson’s passion for improving the customer’s experience as well as the sales profession continues to drive him as he comes up with new ideas to answer this question: How can we make the sales process better? Starting out as an insurance agent going down the street selling accident insurance by knocking on doors, Doug quickly moved into the management side of the life and health insurance industry, hiring and training agents to be successful doing the same. His ability to build successful sales teams caught the eye of the corporate leadership of several major companies. Doug became the vice president of sales and marketing for Conseco and was recruited to do the same for Pacificare, UnitedHealthcare, American Republic, Tranzact, and Humana.
Currently, he is the marketing director for a large national insurance wholesaler that recruits and trains insurance agents and agencies in the senior marketplace across the country, and he continues to build his own general agency, which offers life and health products to the senior population. He is known nationally for his innovations in the sales industry and frequently speaks and trains on his favorite topic of sales.
Doug and his wife Shirley own a Bed & Breakfast in Jefferson, Texas.

Follow Douglas Thompson on: Facebook | Website | Goodreads


GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY! GIVEAWAY!

ONE WINNER receives an autographed copy

+ Knock! Knock! coffee cup

(US only. Ends midnight, CST, 3/11/2021)

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Character Interview: Dreams Re-Kindled by Amanda Cabot

BNR Dreams Rekindled

DREAMS REKINDLED

Mesquite Springs, Book 2

BY AMANDA CABOT

Categories: Christian Historical Fiction/ Romance/ Stand-Alone

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 2, 2021

Pages: 352

 

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He’s bound and determined to find peace . . . but she’s about to stir things up. 
 
Dorothy Clark dreams of writing something that will challenge people as much as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin seems to have. But in 1850s Mesquite Springs, there are few opportunities for writers–until newspaperman Brandon Holloway arrives, that is. 
 
Brandon Holloway has seen firsthand the disastrous effects of challenging others. He has no intention of repeating that mistake. Instead of following his dreams, he’s committed to making a new–and completely uncontroversial–start in the Hill Country. 
 
As Dorothy’s involvement in the fledgling newspaper grows from convenient to essential, the same change seems to be happening in Brandon’s heart. But before romance can bloom, Dorothy and Brandon must work together to discover who’s determined to divide the town and destroy Brandon’s livelihood. 

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Baker Books (Revell) | Amazon | BN | Christianbook.com

A Conversation with Mrs. Lockhart

From Dreams Rekindled

By Amanda Cabot

Ida Downey, who owns Mesquite Springs’s mercantile, is not a gossip, but she prides herself on knowing everything that’s going on in town. Today she’s chatting with the former schoolteacher, a widow who owns the second largest house in town.

IDA: Good morning, Virginia. What can I get for you today?

MRS. LOCKHART: A spool of white thread. I caught my heel in the hem of my petticoat and managed to tear it.

IDA: I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m glad it brought you here. There are a couple things I wanted to ask you. First, I want your opinion of the two men who’ve come to town. They’re all anyone can talk about … including my daughter. Laura’s convinced the handsome newspaperman is the man she’s going to marry.

MRS. LOCKHART: He is handsome, I’ll grant you that, but I wonder if he’s the right one for Laura. Something tells me he has secrets in his past that might stand between them. Laura needs a man with a whole heart, and I’m not sure Brandon Holloway is that man.

IDA: I hope you’re wrong, because Leonard and I both think the world of Brandon. This town needed a newspaper, and as far as we’re concerned, he’s the best thing that’s happened here in a long time.

MRS. LOCKHART: I agree about the paper, but I’m still not sure he and Laura would be a good match.

IDA: I won’t tell Laura you said that, because she has dreams of a double wedding. She’s convinced Phil Blakeslee is the perfect match for Dorothy. There’s only one problem: Dorothy claims she’ll never marry.

MRS. LOCKHART: Now you’ve shocked me, Ida. Why is Dorothy so averse to marriage? Her parents were one of the best-matched couples I’ve met, and her brother seems to be boots over hat in love with his wife.

IDA: Laura doesn’t know why Dorothy’s so adamant. That’s the second thing I want to talk to you about. Laura believes if Dorothy and Phil spend more time together, they’ll fall in love. Do you think you can arrange it? I heard Phil’s been eating dinner with you most days. Maybe you could invite Dorothy to join you.

MRS. LOCKHART: Are you trying to turn me into a matchmaker? I don’t think that’s a good idea.

IDA: Then, what do you suggest?

MRS. LOCKHART: Let love take its course.

And it does, although not necessarily the way anyone expects.

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of Out of the Embers, as well as the Cimarron Creek Trilogy and the Texas Crossroads, Texas Dreams, and Westward Winds series. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers’ Best. She lives in Wyoming. Learn more:

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Continue reading “Character Interview: Dreams Re-Kindled by Amanda Cabot”