Monday, May 28, 2018

Lone Star Book Bloggers' Tour: The Widow's Watcher by Eliza Maxell ***ENTER GIVEAWAY***

THE WIDOW'S WATCHER
by
ELIZA MAXWELL
Genre: Literary Fiction/ Gothic 
Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: March 29, 2018
Number of Pages: 286

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From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…
Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.
Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness. 
But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?
PRAISE FOR THE WIDOW'S WATCHER:
"There was a moment I had to tell myself that this is just a book..."
- Goodreads reviewer
"A well-paced story of healing, forgiveness and tragedy, with enough unexpected twists to keep readers guessing.”
-- Amber Cowie, author of Rapid Falls

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EXCERPT FROM THE WIDOW’S WATCHER
BY ELIZA MAXWELL

The stories were the flickering light of a lone star in an inky-blue sky. The fantastical, sweeping stories that had begun before Cassie could even write them.
This, Jenna had thought. This is it. Tangible evidence my DNA runs somewhere through this kid.
There’d been times she’d wondered. Was it possible the child had been switched in the hospital? Had some sly nurse slid into her room while she dozed and slipped a changeling into her arms, then snuck away into the night with her real daughter?
What had become of the daughter Jenna always thought she’d have? The shy, studious girl who would hide when visitors came? The child who would pull the bottom drawer out of her dresser, dump out the contents, and snuggle into her self-made nest with a pillow and a picture book?
That daughter came later. They named her Sarah, their second born.
But Cassie wasn’t her sister, or her mother, and never would be.
Accepting that made it easier for Jenna to appreciate and celebrate the daughter she did have. The wild, willful, wonderful daughter.
“Unless your goal is to end up stranded on the interstate in the middle of nowhere—which is fine if you’re going for horror, but not really your style—you need to put gas in the car, Mom.”
“Thank you, Cassie, for that astute observation. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“Neither do I.”
If the stories were a star in the sky, Jenna had been tracking that star her entire life. From a practical distance. She’d majored in journalism. Journalism was a marketable skill.
A springboard, she’d told herself. I’ll write that novel one day. When the time is right.
When Matt had encouraged Jenna to take a hiatus from her job and write the book she’d always planned, she’d hesitated.
“If not now, then when?” His optimism confounded her.
Cassie had other plans.
“I’ve decided to self-publish my book,” her daughter had declared at dinner a few months later.
“Wait . . . what?” Jenna’s fork stalled midair.
“Have you considered how to do it?” Matt asked. Cassie launched into a surprisingly well-researched discussion about platform and distribution, marketing and cover design.
The glob of pasta on Jenna’s fork lost its balance and plopped onto her plate. Her insides felt similarly flattened.
“It’s crazy,” she whispered to Matt that night while she massaged lotion onto her face. Her skin had started to show wear and tear approximately the day Cassie was born.
“I don’t know if crazy is the word I’d use.”
“What would you call it, then?”
Matt shrugged, his back turned as he pulled off his T-shirt. “Proactive? Enterprising?” He walked toward her and put his hands on her shoulders. He pulled her into a hug. “I’d call it brave.”
His chin rested on the top of her head. She listened to his strong, steady heartbeat.
“You don’t understand. You’re supposed to toil and shed blood and paper your walls with rejections. You learn from that, and they’re hard lessons. That’s how you become a writer.”
Matt shrugged again. “I guess Cass decided to do it her own way, Jen.”
“But what if the book’s not ready? What if she’s not ready? What if it’s not good enough and she’s buried under the failure?”
Jenna backed up to look her husband in the eyes as she shared her real fear.
“She’s so talented, Matt. And so young. What if she gives up?”
Matt managed to hide the smile lurking beneath the surface, but Jenna knew it was there.
“Then she’ll deal with that. And we’ll be there to help her. But, honey . . . our daughter? She’s not the kind of girl that gives up. She’s not that fragile.”
He didn’t say it, didn’t mean it, didn’t even consider what Jenna would hear in those words. Despite his intentions, not like her mother rang clearly in her head.
Jenna’s fears were unfounded. They often were. Cassie’s book was good. Could she see her daughter’s youth in places? Sure. But there were also glimpses of the woman Cassie would become—strong, decisive, and confident in herself and her words.
Cassie was destined to become the woman Jenna aspired to be.
And every vestige of that was gone now.
Jenna’s eyes were drawn to the passenger seat of the van, to the old wooden box that had been her grandmother’s.
It was all gone.
Jenna jerked the wheel and drove the minivan she no longer had any use for onto an exit ramp.
Everything was gone.
She was left with nothing. Nothing but her eldest daughter’s voice in her head and a carved wooden box that cradled the ashes of the family she used to have.



CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!





Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever-patient husband and two kids. She's an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers.
Twitter ║ Facebook   ║ Instagram Website 
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Three Winners! 1ST PRIZE: Signed Copy + $25 Amazon Gift Card 2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy + $10 Amazon Gift Card 3RD PRIZE: Signed Copy
MAY 22-31, 2018
(U.S. Only)


VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
5/22/18
Book Trailer
5/22/18
Review
5/23/18
Guest Post
5/24/18
Review
5/24/18
Notable Quotable
5/25/18
Review
5/25/18
Author Interview
5/26/18
Review
5/26/18
Notable Quotable
5/27/18
Deleted Scene
5/28/18
Review
5/28/18
Excerpt
5/29/18
Top Five List
5/30/18
Review
5/31/18
BONUS Review

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Lone Star Book Bloggers' Tour: Bonnie and Clyde: Dam Nation by Clark Hays & Kathleen McFall ***ENTER GIVEAWAY***

DAM NATION 
Bonnie and Clyde #2
by
CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL
Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance  Publisher:  Pumpjack Press on Facebook
Date of Publication: March 24, 2018
Number of Pages: 266
  Scroll down for the giveaway!



Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.
The year is 1935 and the Great Depression has America in a death grip of poverty, unemployment and starvation. But the New Deal is rekindling hope, with federally funded infrastructure projects, like Hoover Dam, putting people back to work.  Set to harness the mighty Colorado River for electricity and irrigation, the dam is an engineering marvel and symbol of American can-do spirit.  So, why is someone trying to blow it up?
When an informant on the construction site is murdered, Bonnie and Clyde—spared from their gruesome deaths and forced into a covert life working for the government—are given their second assignment: stop the bomb and protect the thousands of laborers and families in the company town. It's their most dangerous mission yet: working for a living.
  Can the notorious lovers put aside their criminal ways long enough to find out who wants to extinguish the American dream, and hopefully reclaim a shred of redemption along the way?
  The thrilling story cuts back and forth between the modern era where a reporter interviews the now-elderly Bonnie Parker, and the dangerous 1930s undercover exploits of Bonnie and Clyde, as they are thrust into a fight to defend the working class against corporate greed.
Dam Nation, a historical thriller with unsettling contemporary parallels, continues the explosive "what-if" series, started in Resurrection Road, about two unlikely heroes fighting to defend the working class during America's Great Depression.

PRAISE FOR BONNIE AND CLYDE: DAM NATION:
Crisply written, well-researched, thoroughly entertaining. As in Resurrection Road, Hays and McFall evoke time and place well in this sequel. The story’s politics are fresh and timely. Readers will find Bonnie and Clyde to be great company, and the novel’s framing story (the widowed Bonnie’s 1984 recollections) gives their relationship an extra layer of poignancy. 
-- Kirkus Reviews
“Dam Nation” highlights the real-life turmoil of the 1930s as only Hays and McFall can — shadowy intrigue, plenty of suspects and enough behind-the-scenes and under-the-covers action to keep the narrative sizzling along to the final page. 
-- East Oregonian
A rollicking good read. The real history of the rise of unions and worker rights against the backdrop of a nation recovering from the Great Depression contributes an engrossing, realistic scenario; a vivid read that blends fiction with nonfiction elements in a way that makes the book hard to put down. 
-- Midwest Book Review


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BREAKING GOOD: WHEN BAD PEOPLE DO GOOD THINGS
GUEST POST BY AUTHORS CLARK HAYS AND KATHLEEN McFALL

Bonnie and Clyde, the anti-heroes of our speculative historical fiction series, embody a long creative and cultural tradition of elevating criminals and outlaws to folk hero status. As we set out to write this series, we talked at length about this tradition, trying to grasp — to the extent possible — why so many of us love bad guys who break good?

We batted this back and forth and scoured bad-guy (and gal) literature, movies and graphic novels. Our goal was to create a fictional world that mirrors the impetus underlying this fascination with reformed (and unreformed) criminals. We also wanted to be careful that the series would not, even indirectly, celebrate criminality.

We learned, or more accurately, were quickly reminded that getting your arms around the complexities of human nature is no easy task. But still, we finally settled on three issues to explore in our series — three reasons that helped us understand why scofflaws and delinquents consistently captivate and resonate.

Outlaws give voice to the frustrations of the common man and woman. 
What do Robin Hood, Jesse James, Ned Kelly (the armor-wearing Australian bushranger) and the like have in common? They were shaped by poverty, economic disenfranchisement or oppressive social systems and — right or wrong (mostly wrong) — they lashed out against a system they felt contributed to their fringe status. In so doing, outlaws (until they go too far) are rowdily cheered on by regular folks, especially during tough times like the Great Depression. There’s something timeless and appealing about those who have the courage to give voice to their rage and dissatisfaction, even though it’s often aimed in horrible directions.

Criminals have tangible and unique skills that can serve the greater good. 
Criminals and villains have certain skills — including freedom from pesky ethical calculations — that, if focused in the right way, can provide expedient solutions to complex problems. For example, the world increasingly relies on reformed hackers to help safeguard our networked computer systems. Convicted burglars are tasked with building better alarm systems. And during WWII, the U.S. Navy negotiated with famed mobster Meyer Lansky to commute the sentence of even more famous “Lucky Luciano,” considered the father of organized crime in the U.S., in exchange for information about potential Nazi activities in eastern seaports. Polite society doesn’t always like to admit it, but complex problems often require novel — and sometimes morally dubious or illegal — solutions. This truth can be mined for colorful characters and plots.

The road to redemption is more scenic for those who have fallen the farthest.
One of the most powerful reasons the world seems to love bad guys is because their stories are ready-made for redemption. For the moral and upright, life can be an endless and boring series of good choices. For the fallen and depraved, the journey toward atonement is a constant struggle, and that makes it interesting. That’s why the entertainment landscape is often populated with flawed characters and villains who are given a chance to redeem themselves. Suicide Squad is one recent example. At its core, this type of storytelling encourages individuals to reflect on their own journey toward atonement, if not at a criminal scale. If a hardened criminal can make it to the other side, maybe we all have a shot at redemption, right?

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER FOR RESURRECTION ROAD, BOOK ONE IN THE BONNIE AND CLYDE SERIES:


Clark and Kathleen wrote their first book together in 1999 as a test for marriage. They passed. 

Dam Nation is their sixth co-authored book. 

-------------------------------------
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Three Winners Each Win a Signed Copy + $10 Amazon Gift Card
MAY 16-25, 2018


(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
5/16/18
Excerpt
5/17/18
Review
5/18/18
Author Interview
5/19/18
Notable Quotable
5/20/18
Review
5/21/18
Character Interview
5/22/18
Notable Quotable
5/23/18
Review
5/24/18
Guest Post
5/25/18
Review

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Towns by Alex Johnson



Book Towns
by Alex Johnson
192 pages
Published by Frances Lincoln


Review: Book Towns by Alex Johnson is a beautiful history of book towns from around the world! A must read for book lovers everywhere!  Packed with information and real photos, Book Towns will transport you across countries such as France, USA, Germany, Scotland, Spain, Norway, Sweden, and even South Korea! I really enjoyed learning about each book town and I was surprised at some of the cities! Also included at the end of the book are towns that are not officially labeled as book towns, but they should be! Organized by city in alphabetical order, this is a great book to add to that coffee table collection. 

*Received a DRC for an honest review

Rating: 4 Hearts!
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