Monday, May 21, 2018

What Lies Below by Barbara Taylor Sissel


Genre: Contemporary Mystery / Literary Suspense
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Date of Publication: May 15, 2018
Pages: 334



Gilly O’Connell’s nightmares aren’t just bad dreams; they’re glimpses of terrifying realities to come. Gilly has spent her entire life trying to suppress the foreboding visions. So when a dismissed premonition leads to her husband’s murder, she buries the guilt and pain of the unsolved crime in the only way she knows how—she runs from it.

Three years later, after overcoming a battle with addiction and starting over in a small Texas town, Gilly dares to believe the worst is over. That is, until another crime rips her heart open: the abduction of a three-year-old girl. Gilly knows more about it than anyone…

She’s dreaming again.

Gilly is convinced that if she tells the police she dreamed of the kidnapping before it happened, there’s no way they’ll believe her. But when she finally gets the courage to come forward with what she saw, people don’t see her as crazy—they see her as a suspect.

Now, in order to help a desperate single father save his child, Gilly must first clear her own name. But as the nightmares of the past catch up to her, Gilly’s only chance for salvation might be the dreams she’s spent so long trying to ignore.



Rating: 5 of 5 stars 

Call it reader's clairvoyance, but when I picked up What Lies Below by Barbara Taylor Sissel I just knew it was going to be an excellent book. And please believe me when I tell you, it more than lived up to my expectations. 

The story takes place in small Texas town Wyatt where Gilly, the book's protagonist, is not-so-successfully trying to move on with her life after the traumatic murder of her husband in Houston. The twist is that Gilly has premonitions that warn her of horrible events like her husband's death and now the kidnapping of three-year-old, Zoe. Because of this "gift" Gilly becomes a suspect in the abduction and a probable target of her husband's killer, who was never caught. The novel is a heart-pounding race where Gilly is on the search to help find Zoe and clear her name while also trying to avoid the dangers of her husband's killer before it's too late for her and Zoe. 

The story is fast-paced. The writing and editing is solid. And the plot and characters are well developed. I don't have much criticism for this novel. I really enjoyed the in-depth characters. They were complex, flawed, but also had some redeeming values - even the seemingly bad ones. The ending provided hope and closure, but it wasn't a picture perfect ending, which I appreciated. The author definitely has a gift for succinctly telling a compelling story. There's no wonder she's already written nine bestsellers!  

Recommendation: I absolutely loved this book. I always enjoy a good mystery, and this one kept me guessing till the very end. If you're looking for a suspenseful read with a paranormal twist, pick up a copy of this book ... today! Something tells me you will enjoy it! 


Please note: I received a complimentary signed paperback copy of What Lies below in exchange for my honest review.


Until next time ... Read on!








“Infused with heart-stopping suspense, emotional resonance, and startling imagery, What Lies Below swept me along a river of urgency and dread. Barbara Taylor Sissel effortlessly weaves together prescience, regret, grief, love, and revenge—all wrapped in the mystery of a young girl’s abduction. Beneath the breathless immediacy of the story lie deeper questions: How do we forgive ourselves—and others—for remembered transgressions, and can we ever break free of the past?” ~A. J. Banner, #1 Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife

“Barbara Taylor Sissel’s What Lies Below is suspense at its finest—heartrending, compelling, and beautifully written. If you’re looking for your next up-all-night read, look no further.” ~Jessica Strawser, author of Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell

“I cannot emphasize this enough: you must read What Lies Below. Barbara Taylor Sissel manages to combine an unreliable narrator, twisting plot, and well imagined characters to create a world where nothing is as it seems and secrets abound. I had intended to savor the novel’s lovely prose but wound up devouring the book in a day. Simply fantastic.” ~Karen McQuestion, bestselling author of Hello Love




Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women's fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, she was raised in various locations across the U.S. and once lived with her family on the grounds of a first offender prison facility. The experience, interacting with the inmates and staff, provided a unique insight into the inmate's lives, the circumstances behind the crimes they committed, and the impact on the families that were affected. The bestselling author of nine novels, her stories focus on the family at the heart of the crime. An avid gardener and the mother of two grown sons, Barbara lives in the Texas Hill Country. She’s represented by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.


Connect with Barbara
: WebsiteFacebook | Twitter | BookBub | Amazon Author Page | Goodreads



1st PrizeSigned Copy of Book + Bookmark + $15 Amazon Gift Card
2nd Prize: Signed Copy of Book + Bookmark
May 15-24, 2018
(U.S. ONLY)




15-May Excerpt Texas Book Lover   
16-May Review Dressed to Read 
17-May Author Interview That's What She's Reading
18-May Review The Clueless Gent  
19-May Notable Quotable / Bonus Review The Love of a Bibliophile  
20-May Notable Quotable Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
21-May Review A Page Before Bedtime (You are here)  
22-May Guest Post Part 1 Reading by Moonlight   
23-May Guest Post Part 2 Books in the Garden   
24-May Review Book Fidelity 

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Truevine by Beth Macy




Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Length: 448
Published: October 2017


Many moons ago, I set up an IFTTT.com recipe where the most popular book-related articles from The New York Times are gathered and delivered to my inbox each week. I am pretty sure I learned about Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy through this weekly email. I added the book to my ever-growing TBR (to be read) list, and I finally got the opportunity to dive in May.

Truevine is a historical account about two albino brothers who were essentially kidnapped by a circus manager and forced to work in the circus for many years without pay. All the while their mother searched for them eventually finding them and taking on one of the biggest names in the circus industry. 

Macy did a great job of researching, synthesizing, and presenting the information, not only about George and Willie Muse, but also about life in the circus during this time and the Jim Crow south. I cannot summarize this book accurately in one short blog article. There is a lot of detail that provides a greater picture of what people of color had to endure from the early 1900s through present day. My mother asked me why I wanted to read such a painful book. She is correct. It is a painful book, but it is an important one in that it adds another facet of African American history to my personal knowledge. Moreover, it gives me a greater appreciation for my blessings today. We have yet a long way to go, but we have come so far because others have paid the price. Reading George and Willie's story continues to teach me that. 

Recommendation: This is one of my favorite non-fiction reads. I would recommend it to students, to adults, to anyone seeking a greater understanding of the sordid history of our country. We must learn it so we dare not repeat it.  

Until next time ... Read on!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

One Good Dog by Susan Wilson




Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Length: 8:23:00
Published: March 2010


I regretfully write that I nominated One Good Dog by Susan Wilson for Richly Read's May selection. We had decided to read a book that had an animal focus. I found this one on many lists with high star ratings on Goodreads and Amazon. 

As an aside, I prefer not to read reviews before I write my own so my review is truly my own thoughts and opinions. Choosing a book on numerical ratings is not something I would normally do either. I think if you are a reader, you should have no problem reading a review from a fellow reader. If you are simply relying on the ratings ... shame on you! But I digress. The high quantitative praise coupled with the compelling description of the book led me to nominate it. 

One Good Dog is about a man, Adam March, who makes a mistake that causes his professional and personal life to plummet drastically. While attempting to rebuild and redefine himself, he performs a good deed. As a result of that deed, Adam adopts a dog (or as we animal lovers like to say: the dog adopted him). From there, the author tries her best to take us on Adam's journey to redemption. She tries.  

The story is structured in such a way that one chapter is told from Adam's perspective in third person and the alternating chapter is told from the dog's (Chance's) in first. Adam's character was not at all likable. He was angry, mean, and abusive. In what seemed to be Wilson's attempt at Adam's self-reflection came off as a self-absorbed, white privileged male who couldn't understand why life would deal him such a hand. He had no redeeming qualities. I had hoped for growth over the course of the story. No dice. Adam lost a lot, which ideally would make the character sympathetic; however, he was just annoying. (I don't know if Wilson got paid for Lexus product placement in this book, but she certainly should have. She referenced Adam's 2007 Lexus too many times to count.) 

I listened to this book on audio borrowed for my local library. I am thankful I didn't purchase it. However, my disdain for the book is probably stronger because I listened to the audio version. The voices attributed to the African American characters, who were always specifically called out as African American while no other races were noted, were condescending. (It's almost as if the author was trying to satisfy some affirmative action quota for number of black people in a novel.) All of the African American characters were using this so-called "black" dialect in the audiobook. I'm sorry. Is this how all African Americans speak? No one I know talks this way. The reading and acting did nothing to further character development. Sadly, they only exacerbated very basic and condescending stereotypes of African Americans. Frankly, it angered me, and I'll likely never read another book by this author as a result. Finally, people of color were relegated to seemingly negative roles. They were dog fighters or homeless or Hurricane Katrina victims. There were no instances of African Americans who were of higher socioeconomic status or from Adam's life before his fall.  

I was completely disgusted by the constant comparisons of African Americans to dogs throughout the entirety of the book. In a world where African Americans have been enslaved, lynched, attacked by dogs, and gunned down like animals, the racist overtones only contribute to an unrealistic image of black people. I first sensed a hint of racism when one of the dogs was named "Fiddy" as in the rapper, 50 cent. Later, when Adam is trying to decide what to name Chance, his friend suggests Cassius as in Clay or George as in Foreman. The late, great Muhammad Ali has not used the moniker Cassius Clay since 1964. Why black athletes and a rapper as dog names? Are there no professional boxers of other ethnicities? Why not call the dog Rocky? 

It is ironic and unfortunate that Wilson wrote her protagonist as struggling not to be viewed or defined by one major life event, but she was completely OK creating one dimensional African American characters. On top of the racial overtones, the foul language in the book was overused and added no depth to the story. 

If you're wondering why my review seems to focus so much on the racial aspect, it is because Wilson did as much in her writing as I in my reviewing. 

Recommendation: I gave this two stars because I'm a dog lover. It probably deserves one. Regardless of what Garth Stein says about this book (he seemed to endorse it), I'm telling you, if you want to read an emotional book about a dog, pick up The Art of Racing in the Rain

Until next time ... Read on!

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Circumvent by S. K. Derban




Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Length: 233 pages
Published: November 2017


In reading the back cover synopsis of Circumvent by S. K. Derban, the reader learns that the story is set in Hawaii and France. Yes, Hawaii and France. Reading really can take you to the most beautiful places! The mystery genre is one of my favorites, so I was excited to jump right in. 

The protagonist, French-born journalist, Nikki, is recently married to Swiss pastry chef, Ruggiero DelĂ©mont. On her way to Lyon, France for a work writing assignment, she meets a dangerous fate. When she doesn't check-in as planned with her husband, who is back at home in Hawaii working at his up and coming restaurant, he fears the worst and contacts the police. With the help of unlikely friends at home and abroad, Ruggiero engages in a cat-and-mouse chase as he desperately seeks to learn what has happened to his beloved wife.  

The story includes strong Christian themes with the main characters demonstrating an active prayer life, which I appreciated. The author is very well traveled and versed in a variety of cultures. With her strong use of imagery, Derban takes the reader on an international trip. I enjoyed reading the different languages (with translations), the descriptions of the delectable cuisines, and learning about the structure and architecture of France. Derban gives us a view that goes beyond what a tourist might see. 

My criticisms are few. I did not like how the author focused so much on the physical appearance of both Nikki and Ruggiero. She went into great detail on multiple occasions throughout the book explaining how beautifully tan Nikki was and how her gorgeous, long, and dark brown hair complemented her. She also touched on Ruggiero's athletic physique. Sometimes I got the feeling that if they weren't as beautiful they wouldn't have been as deserving of the search for a happy ending. Additionally, this quick-read is nicely tied with a bow in the end. I felt like the reconciliation between Nikki and Ruggiero was a little forced. However, if you accept the story for what it is - a fun, escape from reality, I think it is an enjoyable read for most. 

Recommendation: If you're looking for a fast-paced, weekend and/or beach read with a hint of romance, a Christian focus, and some beautiful people, be sure to check out this suspense-filled mystery. 

Please note: I received a complimentary signed paperback copy of Circumvent in exchange for my honest review. 

Until next time ... Read on!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Covey Jencks by Shelton L. Williams


Genre: Mystery / Social Thriller
Publisher: Southern Owl Publications, LLC
Date of Publication: February 10, 2018
Pages: 229



Covey Jencks is a murder mystery with a social conscience. Set in West Texas with a cast of colorful and humorous characters, it follows a young lawyer from Washington, D.C. back to his hometown of Odessa, Texas. He wants and needs to solve a murder case from 1979 in 1993. The problem is that the Odessa Police Department has already found its man, and no one wants to re-visit the case of a black prostitute whose life was seemingly of no consequence to anyone. But Freddie Mae Johnson’s death matters to Covey and eventually he discovers an old flame, JayJay Qualls, who also knew and loved Freddie. Together they undertake an investigation that uncovers not only the truth about Freddie but also the secrets of Odessa’s south side, Mexican gangs, a Boston mobster, and the fallacy of unexamined assumptions. Finding out who killed Freddie is one thing, but preventing their own demise is quite another! 



Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

I fell in love with this book before I started reading the actual story. The foreword by author Shelton "Shelly" Williams warmed my heart. I knew I was about to partake in the creative genius of one who was not only a talented writer but also socially-aware and compassionate. 

I will start here: Covey Jencks is the title of the book and also the protagonist. I read a paperback copy, and, as per usual, I read everywhere I can: on solo lunch and dinner breaks, in the grocery story line, at Starbucks. Everywhere I read this book, strangers were drawn in by the cover and wanted to know what Covey Jencks meant. (You're welcome, Shelly, I've been selling this book for weeks for you!)    

Covey Jencks is about an attorney who leaves Washington D.C. to return to his hometown of Odessa in west Texas to help correctly solve the murder of Freddie, a working girl, from the late 70s. The story takes place in the mid-90s. This might seem odd because the story could have easily been set in present-day; however, I appreciated the return to that time period. The AOL references made me chuckle. (Come on, if you were born before the mid-80s, you know you had an aol email address at one time. No judgment here if you still have one. Ha!) Anyhow, Freddie's husband had confessed to her murder and served time due to the inequities of the legal (read: not justice system). This created years of dissonance for Covey, so he returns on a quest to set things right. The book opens with his return to Texas and from there we meet a myriad of diverse characters who help and hinder his path to the truth. Most memorably is his love interest, JayJay. I'd have to say her quick wit and spunk made her my favorite character of the book. Some might argue that she is just as much the protagonist of the novel as Covey. 

At a little over 200 pages and with very generous margins in the print copy, this book is a quick read. The content and storyline propels the reader a few decades into the past and encourages one to continue turning the pages until the mystery is solved. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much. The large cast of characters made it a little confusing at times, but thankfully, the author smartly added a listing of each character with short description at the beginning. I found myself referring to this dog-earred (Yes, I'm one of those readers!) page often. Additionally, the unexpected perspective changes and dialogue without speaker identifiers (e.g., Covey said, JayJay questioned, etc.) added to my confusion. However, with careful reading and some re-reading, I was very pleased with the pace and final outcome. 

Recommendation: Treat yourself to a fast-paced murder mystery set deep in the heart of Texas. But don't jump right into the story, be sure to read that foreword as well as the Williams' ending afterword notes. I can't wait for his next work of fiction to be published! 

Until next time ... Read on!






I just love Covey Jencks and JayJay Qualls! They are a modern couple who remind me of Nick and Nora in West Texas. Characters, crimes, and social commentary leap off the page. Shelly can tell a story! ~Deborah Crombie, author of the award-winning mysteries of Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid

I loved the story, the writing, and the prospects for future Covey Jencks adventures, but what I love the most, as an African- American author and documenter of human experience, is the proof that this work presents of the inextricability of Black and White lives in America. ~Sharon T. Freeman, CEO of Gems of Wisdom Consulting, author of 24 books, and global development expert

A dead body and a miscarriage of justice? What is a West Texas boy to do? Well, Covey Jencks, an Odessa native who knows some secrets, spurns his job with a Washington, DC law firm, and heads back to his hometown to solve the crime. ~Prudence Mackintosh, Contributing Editor, Texas Monthly, author of Thundering Sneakers and more

"I have unfinished business in Odessa, by God, Texas." And with that, we are off on a wild ride with Covey Jencks as he tries to find out who killed Freddie Mae Johnson, a black prostitute, when Covey was a junior in high school. If you like your detectives to be misfits who chafe at the social rules, idealists who try to find the order behind apparent chaos, attractors of a cast of characters as contradictory as the detective is, you will grab hold of Covey and hang on until the end of the ride. When you get there, you'll know for sure that you've been somewhere. ~Carol Daeley, Professor Emerita of English, Austin College






Shelton L. Williams (Shelly) is founder and president of the Osgood Center for International Studies in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and he taught for nearly 40 years at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He has served in the US Government on 4 occasions and he has written books and articles on nuclear proliferation. In 2004 he began a new career of writing books on crime and society. Those books are Washed in the Blood, Summer of 66, and now Covey Jencks. All firmly prove that he is still a Texan at heart.
Connect with Shelly: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram




10-Apr Character Interview Hall Ways Blog    
11-Apr Review Chapter Break Book Blog
12-Apr Excerpt Texas Book Lover
13-Apr Review The Clueless Gent  
14-Apr Author Interview The Librarian Talks 
15-Apr Top 11 List StoreyBook Reviews  
16-Apr Review Reading by Moonlight 
17-Apr Scrapbook Page Missus Gonzo   
18-Apr Notable Quotable Forgotten Winds   
19-Apr Review A Page Before Bedtime (You are here) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan




Rating: 5 of 5 stars
Length: 337 pages
Published: June 2017

I consider myself a bookish person, so somewhere at some point of time between June 2017 and April 2018 I read good things about Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan. As a result, I put a hold on the ebook at my local library. (Support your local libraries, people. Please!) By the time it became available, I honestly had forgotten what I heard or even what the story was about. I had some time to spare, and I just jumped in and started reading. And once I started, I could. not. stop. I finished this book in three week days, which is a record for me! 

I would consider this work of adult fiction a fast-paced thriller that begins with the suicide of a young man, Joey, in a bookstore. In death, he leaves his meager belongs to the main character, Lydia, as well as cryptic clues about his life in the books he'd purchased from the bookstore at which she worked. From there Lydia's past meets Joey's death, and we're taken on a wild ride to solve the mystery with her.  

I found this book to be entertaining, moving, and suspenseful. I enjoy a good mystery, and it was really fun that this one had a bookstore as its central setting. I was not able to figure it out till nearly the end, which always makes this mystery genre enjoyable to me. 

Recommendation: This was a great, quick read to supplement my April reading choices. I'm glad I put the book on hold and very glad that it became available at a time in which I was able to thoroughly enjoy it! 

Until next time ... Read on!

Monday, April 9, 2018

The Downfall of Galveston's May Walker Burleson by T. Felder Dorn


The Downfall of Galveston's May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage Carolina Murder Scandal
Genre: True Crime
Date of Publication: April 2, 2018
Pages: 192 with black & white images



Jennie May Walker Burleson was envied for having everything a woman of her time could want—the privileged upbringing, the dazzling good looks, the dashing war hero husband. She was admired for demonstrating that a woman could want more, from the front of the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession to the bottom of a Mesoamerican archaeological dig. But as she stood over the body of her husband’s second wife, gun in hand, society’s envy and admiration quickly hardened into pity and scorn. T. Felder Dorn examines the complicated trajectory of her life as socialite, suffragist and shooter.



Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

The Downfall of Galveston's May Walker Burleson: Texas Society Marriage Carolina Murder Scandal is the re-telling of the very tragic life of May Walker Burleson including her high profile marriage to U.S. Army Colonel Richard Burleson, their resulting divorce, and her murder of the Colonel's second wife, Isabel Knowlton Burleson. 

In the opening of the book we learn about May, who is quite an intriguing woman. Considering she lived during a time when women did not have careers or equal rights to men, she was very active in politics. She also traveled quite a bit including participating in archaeological digs in Mexico. May advocated for women's rights, even participating in a march for women's suffrage in 1913. Her life began with such promise, but as the title of the book indicates, quickly dissipated.   

Any reader can easily discern that the author, T. Felder Dorn, put quite a bit of research in the compilation of this book. It is written academically with many citations expressing the veracity of the accounts that are shared in chronological order. The book is in the 200-page range, but can be a little slow at times, especially the scenes that describe the Burleson's divorce proceedings as they included much legalese. However, I do find this to be an asset and testament to the work that Dorn put into the research and writing of this book. The result is, essentially, a very detailed biography of May Walker Burleson. It also includes several photos that enhance the story. All of the images are black and white, although, that's all the reader can expect from this time period. Even so, they are engaging thus illustrating May's very colorful life story. 

My only (and very minor) complaint about this thoroughly-researched book is that it took a little more than half the book to get to the actual murder. I think this is probably because Dorn was trying to paint a clear picture of how May got to the point of murder as well as put the reader in her mindset. Dorn takes us through the murder, trial, and what May's life was like post-trial. The next bit may include what some would deem a spoiler, so I've hidden it here

Recommendation: While the events of May's life happened many decades ago, I think many women can relate to her, even today. These events could quite easily occur today. Readers of this book will also learn about the divorce process and how it was conducted in the early 1900s compared to today. I would definitely recommend this book for history and drama buffs. 

Until next time ... Read on!


Arcadia Publishing / The History Press
| Also available locally wherever books are sold |

Add to Goodreads Shelf

T. Felder Dorn graduated from Duke University in 1954 with a BS in chemistry and was awarded a PhD in that discipline in 1958 by the University of Washington. He was a member of the chemistry faculty at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1958–69 and then served four years on the program staff of the College Board in New York. From 1973 to 1991, he held administrative positions at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, serving as associate dean, dean and vice-president for academic affairs. His last ten years at Kean were spent as professor of chemistry. He retired in 2001. Felder Dorn and his wife, Sara Ruth, have resided in Millburn, New Jersey, since 1973. They have three children and three grandchildren. Dorn has previously published four books: Challenges on the Emmaus Road: Episcopal Bishops Confront Slavery, Civil War, and Emancipation (University of South Carolina Press, 2013); Death of a Policeman, Birth of a Baby: A Crime and Its Aftermath (Xlibris, 2012); The Guns of Meeting Street: A Southern Tragedy (University of South Carolina Press, 2001); and The Tompkins School, 1925–1953: A Community Institution (Attic Press, 1994).



02-Apr Promo Missus Gonzo   
02-Apr Bonus Post Hall Ways Blog
03-Apr Promo The Love of a Bibliophile
04-Apr Review Dressed to Read
05-Apr Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews 
06-Apr Review Forgotten Winds
07-Apr Promo The Clueless Gent   
08-Apr Author Interview Syd Savvy  
09-Apr Review A Page Before Bedtime (You are here)   
10-Apr Promo The Page Unbound
11-Apr Review Reading by Moonlight 

Friday, April 6, 2018

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach




Rating: 2 of 5 stars
Length: 8:21:00
Published: April 2013
Read by: Emily Woo Zeller


If you follow my blog, you may know that I've been trying to listen to more audiobooks. I had hoped to visually read this book, but only the audiobook was available at the time I started*. While the topic of this book was the stomach, it literally gave me a headache. 

In my book club (check us out!), we read a different genre each month, and April's genre was popular science. I've decided that maybe this just isn't my genre. I don't think the book is poorly written or lacks depth, it's just not something that is of genuine interest to me.  

Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach is a comical yet informative non-fiction, popular science book about all things having to do with the alimentary canal. I work in the arts, so I had to look this up. According to dictionary.com, alimentary is concerned with the function of nutrition; pertaining to food. A quick perusal of goodreads.com offered that Ms. Roach is one of the leading authorities in presenting this type of material in an easily digestible (pun intended) manner. So, I nominated it for book club and was pleased when it won by popular vote. (We don't deal with that messy electoral college.) 

Roach is clearly well-read and studied in this topic. She is also quite hilarious, so much so that she probably could choose a career in stand-up comedy if the science writing thing doesn't work out. (Although, I think the science writing bit is working out for her. She's pretty prolific.) In Gulp, the author offers various historical vignettes delivered with a humorous punch to illustrate the fascinating characteristics of the body. While some parts are funny, the book is very detailed and scholarly. It got a little cumbersome at times for me as I typically read to escape reality. However, there were nuggets of information I found interesting. For example, Roach tells us that her research has shown that we eat with our ears. We consume crunch/crispy foods to alleviate stress. These type of foods also signal freshness and healthiness to us. On the contrary, I found the chapter on flatulence to be the most dull chapter. I have never understood why boys (and some men) are so amused by this topic. 

Recommendation: Overall, the book was an informative read but not one that I would pick up again nor recommend to a friend with similar reading tastes. Albeit educational, I wouldn't recommend it to my elementary school-aged niece either as there is some pretty colorful language. I think readers who appreciate math and science might find this book intriguing. 

Until next time ... Read on!

*As an aside, my awesome Librarian was able to secure a license for the eBook when I was about halfway through, and I read the second half of the book while listening.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis


Genre: Western Humor
Publisher: Wild Horse Press
Date of Publication: May 19, 2016
Pages: 234



When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.

With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher.

To stay rich, the baron must stay alive! And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal. Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas.

Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.





“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,” ~Albany Review

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.” ~Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads


“If you're looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” ~Bryan Eagle









Scrapbook Page 

A Guide to Preston Lewis’s 
Fort Griffin Scrapbook
-1- A reconstructed mess hall on the site of the military post.
-2- The jail is one of the few remaining structures from the town of Fort Griffin.
-3- Reconstructed barracks at the military post on the plateau overlooking the town of the same name below.
-4- This state historic marker provides a brief history of the town of Fort Griffin.
-5- A stone sentinel from the military post stands guard over the region’s historic past.
-6- Fort Griffin State Historic Site is the original home of the State Longhorn Herd.
-7- Though Fort Griffin long ago disappeared, the history of the town is brought to life each June when the citizens of Shackelford County produce the Fort Griffin Fandangle, an annual outdoor musical drama in Albany.




Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press. Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas.

Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series.

Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid. Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA).

Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel. His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article. In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.

Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press. His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times.

A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities. He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University. He is a past president of WWA and WTHA. Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America. 


Connect with Preston: Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon Author Page




First Prize: Signed Copy of The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
Choice of Any One Book from the H.H. Lomax Series
Second Prize: Signed Copy of The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
March 20-29, 2018
(U.S. Only; email addresses collected will be used by author for distribution list)


a Rafflecopter giveaway


20-Mar Excerpt 1 Chapter Break Book Blog  
21-Mar Review Hall Ways Blog 
22-Mar Author Interview Book Fidelity
23-Mar Review Missus Gonzo  
24-Mar Excerpt 2 The Love of a Bibliophile  
25-Mar Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews 
26-Mar Review Reading by Moonlight 
27-Mar Excerpt 3 Books and Broomsticks
28-Mar Scrapbook Page A Page Before Bedtime (You are here)
29-Mar Review Forgotten Winds