Friday, February 16, 2018

LSBBT Bloggers' Choice Awards - Best Non-Fiction, Memoir, & Western

The Lone Star Book Blog Tours team has voted, and the results are in!  From Best Fiction to Most Engaged Author, we have seventeen awards to hand out to the awesome Texas books and authors featured on Lone Star Book Blog Tours in 2017.

From February 15-23, 2018, please join us as we hop around the LSBBT blogs and share the winners, runners-up, and shortlisted titles. Don’t miss it!

Click to learn more about:


Awards Schedule:
2/14: Awards Announcement
2/15: Best Hook & Best Creative Concept
2/16: Best Non-Fiction History, Best Biography/Memoir, & Best Western
2/17: Best Children’s/Juvenile/YA & Best Series
2/18: Best Literary Fiction & Best Religious/Inspirational/Spiritual
2/19: Best Mystery/Suspense, Best Romance, & Best Fantasy
2/20: Best Cover & Most Engaged Author
2/21: Best Texas Book
2/22: Best Non-Fiction Book
2/23: Best Fiction Book

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Why I Hate Green Beans by Lincee Ray


TitleWhy I Hate Green Beans and other confessions about relationships, reality tv, and how we see ourselves
Genre: Humorous Non-fiction / Memoir
Publisher: Revell (on Facebook | on Twitter)
Date of Publication: February 6, 2018
Pages: 208



Insecurity. As women, we all struggle with it. Our skinny jeans mock us. Our age-defying serums with flecks of gold refuse to erase our crow’s feet. Our social media feeds taunt us with everyone else’s picture-perfect lives. If you’ve ever felt uninteresting, unlovable, or unattractive, you’re ready for Lincee Ray’s particular brand of hilarious (and hard-hitting) self-reflection. 

Like a trustworthy friend, she shows us that the fastest way to happiness is to embrace ourselves in all our imperfection and trust that God knew what He was doing when He made us. From maneuvering the muffin top to navigating the sketchy waters of singleness to walking the judgmental halls of the workplace, Lincee’s laugh-out-loud look at real life reveals many of the key truths she’s learned about her identity: Yoga pants are your friend, Jesus sees you, and green-bean diets are never the answer.




"Lincee is a brilliant writer. She once described me as ‘smelling of worn leather, a vintage nine iron and swagger.’ She pretty much nailed it. She is definitely worthy of the final rose." ~ Chris Harrison, host of ABC’s Bachelor franchise and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

"I found myself laughing out loud, wiping away a few tears, and cheering her on every step of the way. Lincee is the best friend you wish you had. Get ready to fall in love with her and her fabulous debut book!”  ~ Melanie Shankle, author of the Big Mama blog 

"By the end of this book, you’ll think of Lincee as a favorite friend: someone who shoots straight, finds the funny in every situation, and reminds you what matters most. You are in for a treat!” ~ Sophie Hudson, author of Giddy Up, Eunice and cohost of The Big Boo Cast podcast





Lincee Ray is an accidental blogging superstar from Texas who now writes for EW.com and the Associated Press. An active speaker, she can be found at her popular website, ihategreenbeans.com, where she makes it clear that she believes it’s important to tell your story—even if it makes you seem a little crazy.

Connect with Lincee: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Podcast

February 13-22, 2018, 2018

Grand Prize:
Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed book plate, $50 Barnes & Noble Gift Card, and Lincee's Loves Basket which includes: Rave travel hairspray, Minnie Mouse ears, Vodka*, Heartbreakers Candy, Dr. Pepper, chocolate rose, and green jelly beans.
2nd Prize:
Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed book plate, $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3rd Prize:
Copy of Why I Hate Green Beans with a signed book plate, $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card


(U.S. Only; *proof of age required for vodka)

13-Feb Notable Quotable A Page Before Bedtime (You are here) 
13-Feb Notable Quotable Hall Ways Blog 
14-Feb Review Missus Gonzo 
15-Feb Playlist Reading by Moonlight 
15-Feb Author Interview The Librarian Talks 
16-Feb Review Forgotten Winds 
17-Feb Guest Post Texas Book Lover 
17-Feb Excerpt The Page Unbound 
18-Feb Review StoreyBook Reviews
19-Feb Notable Quotable Syd Savvy 
19-Feb Notable Quotable A Novel Reality
20-Feb Review Chapter Break Book Blog
21-Feb Top Five Momma on the Rocks
22-Feb Review Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
22-Feb Review Margie's Must Reads

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 5 of 5 stars 

I will begin with the end. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin is literary fiction at its finest!

I think the overarching lesson of the novel is that life is not about defying death but rather what happens as you approach it. How do you live your life?, if you will.

The story begins in 1969 when four siblings have the date of their deaths portended by a fortune teller. This event has shocking ramifications and catapults each sibling's life into very different and complex directions. The book is written in four parts with each sibling's story given an exclusive part.

The youngest sibling, Simon, and the next youngest, Klara, live their lives a little more on the edge in comparison to older siblings, Daniel and Varya. Each part reads like a short story; however, their stories do intertwine and have consistent themes that run throughout.

Benjamin is a beautiful writer. There were so many beautiful passages in this book, I could spend an entire blog post sharing them. But rather than potentially spoil it, I would recommend you grab a copy and see for yourself. Additionally, the author has taken on a heavy topic making the reader think about the topic and the story long after the last page is turned. However, as the reader, you do not get bogged down. The pace is good and the story moves forward with ease.

Recommendation: I was lucky to snag this book with my Page Habit subscription just in time for a four-day cruise. The leisure time allowed me to finish the book rather quickly. However, I suspect that even if I had been busy with the normal responsibilities of life, I would have found time to squeeze this one in. Grab a copy and a cup of coffee (or tea) and enjoy this thoughtfully, crafted read.

Until next time ... Read on!



My box of goodies from #PageHabit

Friday, February 9, 2018

Necessities by Boyd Taylor

Genre: Suspense Crime Fiction, Adult Fiction
Publisher: Katherine Brown Press
Date of Publication: December 5, 2017
Pages: 225



Donnie Ray Cuinn returns to Austin to defend a war hero accused of murder. David Lewis lost both legs in Iraq, but he has overcome his nightmares and his disabilities by sheer willpower. He has learned to run and to box and is a successful newspaperman with a beautiful wife and son. Now the nightmares have returned and he must stand trial for murder. With twists that never seem to end, this gripping legal thriller is filled with suspense and indelibly drawn characters dealing with love and betrayal.



Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

Necessities is a suspense-filled drama written by fellow Texan Boyd Taylor. As the story opens, we meet David Lewis, an Army veteran who lost both legs during war. Now back in the U.S. (Cleveland, Ohio) and working as a journalist he reconnects with an old college girlfriend Cordelia "Cory" Lehrer. They begin a whirlwind romance, and she sees David and their relationship as an opportunity to capitalize on her father's fortune he's amassed as a newspaper publisher. 

The majority of the first part of the book sets up David and Cory's romantic relationship then-turned loveless marriage. A couple of years into the marriage and after David and Cory have had a son together, David finds himself on trial for murder and must prove that the shooting in which he participated was accidental. The event is a bit reminiscent of the Oscar Pistorius case. Couple that with David's odd marriage arrangement and his PTSD as a result of the war, you have the makings of an excellent book (and maybe even a movie!) 

At this point, the recurring character of the series, Donnie Ray Cuinn enters. He serves as criminal defense attorney for David. From there the pace is the book picks up dramatically. I found myself rushing to each next chapter in hopes of finding out what verdict might be assigned. 

This book grabbed my attention from the start and kept it until the very end. I finished it in about five days, which is pretty fast for me. I enjoyed the suspense, the mystery, the unique family dynamic, and the legal thrill. It's also fun to read a book about places with which you are familiar. The latter part of the book takes place in Texas, specifically Austin, which is one of my favorite cities. 

My only critique would be that the set-up of David and Cory's life seemed a little unrealistic. It seems almost unbelievable that she would fall in love with him so quickly. Even more so, that David (or any man really) would agree to the marriage agreement she proposes after conceiving their son. Having said that and without giving away spoilers, this seemingly weak plot development makes sense at the conclusion of the book. However, it did bug me as I read the book. (Sometimes it all really does make sense in the end.) 

RecommendationThis was a fast read with a lot of detail that kept my interest the whole way through. I would recommend this for anyone who enjoys mysteries and courtroom dramas. I am looking forward to reading the other books in Mr. Taylor's series. 

Until next time ... Read on!







Boyd Taylor lives in Austin, Texas with his wife and their Havanese dog Toby. Necessities is the fourth novel in the Donnie Ray Cuinn series. In a former life, Boyd was a lawyer and a corporate officer. A native of Temple, Texas, he graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in government and an LL.B. from the law school.

​Boyd's first novel Hero was prescient in its story about fake news. His second novel, The Antelope Play, dealt with drug trafficking in the Texas Panhandle, an unfortunately accurate forecast. The third, The Monkey House, involved commercial development of a large green space in the center of Austin, all too familiar to Austin residents. Whether his upcoming novel Necessities predicts future events with the accuracy of the earlier books remains to be seen.

Connect with Boyd: Website | Facebook


Enter today! Giveaway ends March 7, 2018



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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Double Take by Abby Bardi

Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Harper Collins Impulse
Pages: 186



Set in Chicago, 1975, Double Take is the story of artsy Rachel Cochrane, who returns from college with no job and confronts the recent death of Bando, one of her best friends. When she runs into Joey, a mutual friend, their conversations take them back into their shared past and to the revelation that Bando may have been murdered. To find out who murdered him, Rachel is forced to revisit her stormy 1960s adolescence, a journey that brings her into contact with her old friends, her old self, and danger.


Abby Bardi is the author of three novels: Double Take, The Secret Letters, and The Book of Fred. Her short fiction has appeared in anthologies and journals, and she has written academic articles on Roma (Gypsies). She grew up on the South Side of Chicago and now lives in Ellicott City, MD, the oldest railroad town in America.

Connect with Abby: Website | Twitter | Facebook


1975

I recognized his voice from across the room. When I handed him a menu, he looked up absent-mindedly and went on talking to some guys, then did a double take.


“Cookie?” he said.

I tried on the name like an old article of clothing to see if it still fit. It felt like a suede fringed jacket. “Yep,” I said.

“Wow. You look so different.”

“I cut my hair.”


“Everyone did.”


“I’m older,” I said. “Everyone’s older.”

“You look exactly the same,” I said. He was wearing a beat-up leather jacket over a green T-shirt, maybe the same jacket and T-shirt he had always worn. His thick black hair was shorter now and curly, skin still tan from summer, small mouth with perfect teeth. He still looked tough and handsome, but in a creepy way, like someone you couldn’t trust.





Rating: 2 of 5 stars 
Double Take by Abby Bardi is a dark mystery featuring Rachel (aka Cookie) as a troubled, recent college graduate who returns home from California to decide what direction her life is going. While there, she reconnects with friends and coworkers from high school, specifically Joey (aka Rat) and learns more about the suicide of their mutual friend Robert Bandolini (aka Bando) that might actually be a murder.

Mystery is one of my favorite genres, next to historical fiction, so I was excited to dig into this story. The author wasted no time getting right to the point of the story. However, I felt very bogged down by the verbose descriptions that seemed to be more stream of consciousness of the main character. It was also quite difficult to keep a pulse on the overall story because in present day the novel was narrated by Rachel/Cookie. Then, the timeline would jump back into the past (sometimes 1969, sometimes 1970, sometimes 1972), and when it would do this the point-of-view changed from first person to third person omniscient. The constant change in voice and time made for a confusing read.

There were a lot of characters introduced with real names and nicknames. I understand that this is needed for a good mystery to create some suspicion as to “who done it.” However, it was difficult to keep all of the characters straight. I had to keep physical notes to keep the characters straight. The saving grace for this book is that by the end, you do get a fairly satisfying conclusion, albeit an unrealistic one.


RecommendationThis book is fairy short, just under 200 pages, so it makes for a quick read. I think readers a little older than me who grew up during the late 60s and early 70s might appreciate some of the references. Please be advised there is some language, sexually-explicit scenes, and violence. This is definitely adult fiction, rated R.

Until next time ... Read on!


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God

Image Credit: goodreads.com
Rating: 4 of 5 stars 

OK. I will admit it, I had never heard of Charlamagne Tha God until my sister started raving about him on The Breakfast Club, which is a nationally-syndicated radio morning show on New York's Power 105.1. And because one of the beautiful things about the internet is that it brings us all a little closer, I was able to check out the show using iHeart's radio app on my smart phone last year. After tuning in for a few months and in keeping with my quest to listen to more audiobooks, I snagged Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It. This non-fiction book was authored and read by Charlamagne.

I would definitely put this memoir in the motivational and inspirational category. Charlamagne is more than a radio personality. He is an intelligent, young man who has worked hard to carve out his space in the multimedia world. I love how he proves you can be cool and smart, humble and confident, yet perfectly flawed. In his book, he shares some personal (and very truthful sounding) stories. I found some of his analogies to be a bit crass, but I think they probably resonate with his core target audience. I find Charlamagne to be a multi-faceted and well-versed person, so I think everyone can take a little something away from his story. What touched me the most was his spiritual beliefs and love of family.

I think most celebrity memoirs have similar themes of survival and success. It's a part of the template to provide some inspiration to the masses based on their individual success. That is not a judgement or shortcoming, but rather an integral part of the genre. I think Charlamagne has captured this well with his debut. I will say this: Unlike some celebrities (read: Steve Harvey), I feel like Charlamagne really did write this book. It was definitely in his voice.

Recommendation: I would recommend this read to any young person looking for some rock solid, realistic motivation in his or her life. Having read Black Privilege, I feel like I know more about Charlamagne's life, and I have a deeper appreciation of his craft.

Until next time ... Read on!




Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Aransas Morning by Jeff Hampton


Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life
Date of Publication: September 22, 2017
Pages: 304



When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.





“Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”

“In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”

“I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”

“Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”

“Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”





During a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.

He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.

Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa Jack, When the Light Returned to Main Street, Jonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Watch for Aransas Evening, a sequel to Aransas Morning, in 2018.


Connect with Jeff: Website | Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads


Five Signed Copies!
January 23-February 1, 2018
(U.S. Only)
23-Jan Promo A Page Before Bedtime (You are here) 
23-Jan Promo Reading by Moonlight
24-Jan Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
24-Jan Review Biblioteca 
25-Jan Excerpt - Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
25-Jan Excerpt - Part 2 Forgotten Winds 
26-Jan Review Texan Girl Reads
27-Jan Review Tangled in Text
28-Jan Author Interview The Page Unbound
28-Jan Playlist Syd Savvy 
29-Jan Review The Clueless Gent
30-Jan Promo Texas Book Lover
30-Jan Scrapbook Page The Librarian Talks
31-Jan Review Momma on the Rocks
01-Feb Review Missus Gonzo