Thursday, December 14, 2017

Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend ~ ~ Blog Tour & Review!


YONDERINGS
Trails and Memories 
of the Big Bend
by
Ben H. English
  Genre: Memoir / Travel / Texas
Publisher: TCU Press
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Date of Publication: November 17, 2017
Number of Pages: 221

It was a time before Terlingua Ranch, chili cook-offs, and when you could drive a hundred miles without seeing another vehicle or another person.  The year was 1961, and the tides of humanity that ebbed and flowed into the lower reaches of the Big Bend were at their historical nadir.  It was a vast, empty land spotted by isolated ranch headquarters, a national park with few visitors, and the many ruins of a past shrouded in legend, lore, and improbable truths. Six generations of Ben H. English’s family have called this enigmatic region home.  With his family headquartered at the old Lajitas Trading Post, he worked and lived on ranches and in places now little more than forgotten dots on yellowing maps.  He attended the one-room schoolhouse at Terlingua, prowled the banks of the Rio Grande, and crisscrossed the surrounding areas time and again on horseback and on foot.

Some fifty years later he writes about those years, revealing along the way the history and legends of the singular land he knows so well, separating fact from fiction, and bringing the reader into a world that few have experienced.  He also explores the lower Big Bend as it is found now, and the extraordinary vistas one can still discover just over the next rise.  


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“Born of a family with the innate urge to go and see beyond 
what the eye could first perceive, for me the die was cast
at conception and it came as natural as breathing.” 

Early on in Yonderings: Trails and Memories of the Big Bend, author Ben English establishes that his love of the Big Bend runs deep within his bloodlines. As readers follow English as he meanders through that country, it’s clear that the Big Bend is also housed deep within his soul.

In parts hiking guide and history book, and fully memoir, Yonderings takes readers on a series of journeys with the author as he travels, mostly on foot, on the trails and off the beaten track of the Big Bend country of Texas.  As English says, “No matter what you may have in mind for extravagant scenery, there is likely a little bit of it to be found someplace within the Big Bend.” Though I’m not sure he’d be pleased to have more tourists invading his sacred spaces, the result of English’s publication may very well be readers coming in droves to see the sights so spectacularly described.

And, oh, the descriptions! English has a way with words that puts the reader in the scenery and sets a tone of wonderment. Whether it’s the breathtaking, sweeping views which are “a work of art filling the mortal soul with contemplation and awe,” or the abandoned and long forgotten homesteads where the author passes by quietly, “observant to an open graveyard of someone else’s dreams,” readers will feel immersed in the landscape. There is a sense of slipping back in time as the author considers the forces of nature that created the Big Bend as well as the human history of the place. He is at times melancholy, but he is always thoughtful and considerate in his recollections and ruminations.

One characteristic that impresses me to no end is English’s self-control. He would know that just around the bend/down the slope/up the mountainside/across the ravine likely lay a feast for the eyes and mind: possibly the century-old detritus of man, possibly the eons-old creations of nature. Rather than pressing forward, he’d check his watch, his trusty topographical maps, and his surroundings and turn around and head back from where he came, leaving the undiscovered, undiscovered. English knows and respects the limitations of man – and that’s what’s kept him alive, though he will readily admit (and elaborates upon) how even the most experienced can make rookie mistakes with near deadly consequences.

It is in English’s elaborations that the book shines. His unique and sage perspectives allow the reader to view the world from a new angle.  Having made several trips to Big Bend, I enjoyed gleaning new information about familiar sites. I laughed and nodded having had similar experiences with road closures and blocked passages, all of which led me to discover new and amazing things. Though my husband and I weren’t like the driver of the van English describes in one story, on one of our trips, we did have a Dodge Grand Caravan that we took places it shouldn’t have probably been in Big Bend. Our motto, after all, was “Mini-van, Mega-fun.”

Of note: English's writing is beautiful – even mesmerizing at times – and it calms and quiets the spirit. And hallelujah! The book is cleanly edited. Included in the book are numerous photos, all either taken by the author or from his own collection. Though I wish they were in color (I completely understand why they aren’t), even in black and white, they are dramatic and many still convey the sheer awesomeness of the Big Bend and give perspective of how small we are in the grand scheme of things – physically and otherwise.  They make a fine addition to the book and perfectly complement the text.  The only elements missing, especially if one intends to find any of the trails or places discussed in Yonderings, are maps. Of course, this may have been an intentional exclusion since the author loves NOT seeing people on his hikes. Nonetheless, even to the armchair explorer, and overview of what is where would be fabulous.

Perhaps it’s my own (limited) firsthand knowledge of the Big Bend that took this reading experience to the next level and created a real yearning within me to return there. (Ahhh, to see Santa Elena Canyon up close again. It’s been ten years.) But I am certain that after reading Yonderings, even those who have never been there will find themselves itching to make plans – and wondering if Mr. English would consider being their guide. *HINT* In the meantime, in several places, English references numerous other novels in the works. HOORAY! I am most thankful that he’s been meticulous in recording his journeys and the history of a place that nature is recapturing, and I eagerly await future publications.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours, TCU Press, and the author for giving me a treasured print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 


An eighth-generation Texan, Ben H. English was raised mostly in the Lajitas-Terlingua area. An honors graduate of Angelo State University, he served in the United States Marine Corps for seven years, was a high school teacher, and retired after twenty-two years in the Texas Highway Patrol.  

CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
12/5/17
Playlist
12/6/17
Review
12/7/17
Top Ten List
12/8/17
Author Video 1
12/9/17
Review
12/10/17
Excerpt
12/11/17
Author Video 2
12/12/17
Review
12/13/17
Scrapbook Page
12/14/17
Review




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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Baugh to Brady: The Evolution of the Forward Pass ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo

BAUGH TO BRADY

The Evolution of the Forward Pass
by
LEW FREEDMAN
  Genre: Sports History / Football
Publisher: Texas Tech University Press
on Twitter  ┃ on Facebook
Date of Publication: December 15, 2017
Number of Pages: 296

There are three things that can happen when you throw a pass, and two of them are bad.   –Woody Hayes

The quarterback pass is one of the leading offensive components of today's National Football League and college football's top level of play. This was not always the case. In early American football, the strategy focused entirely on advancing the ball one running play at a time, with the player tucking the then-roundish ball on his hip and sprinting ahead until tackled by a swarm of defenders. The revolution that transformed the sport began in 1906, when passing was first legalized. The passing weapon made the game safer, altered strategy, turned the quarterback into a key offensive player, and made possible the high-scoring games of today.

Lew Freedman traces football's passing game from its inception to the present, telling the tale through the stories of the quarterbacks whose arms carried (and threw) the changes forward. Freedman relies especially on the biography of "Slingin' Sammy" Baugh--who hailed from Sweetwater, Texas--as a framework. Baugh, perhaps the greatest all-around football player in history, came along at just the right time to elevate the passing game to unprecedented importance in the eyes of the sports world.




Lew Freedman is a veteran newspaper sportswriter and experienced author of more than seventy-five books about sports as well as about Alaska. He spent seventeen years at the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska and has also worked for the Chicago Tribune and Philadelphia Inquirer. Freedman is recipient of more than 250 journalism awards.



CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
12/11/17
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12/12/17
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12/13/17
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Monday, December 11, 2017

The Case of the Cursed Dodo ~ ~ Audio Book Promo, Audio Clip, & Review!


Author: Jake G. Panda
Narrators: Full Cast
Length: 2 hours 34 minutes
Publisher: Woolly Family Studios
Released: Oct. 3, 2016
Genre: Family Audio Drama


Listen up. If you're looking for trouble, you've found it. His name's Jake G. Panda and he's a wildlife investigator. This hard-boiled bear works at a flophouse for endangered critters called the Last Resort. He's the hotel snoop. The resident fuzz. It's his job to keep these unusual guests safe and outta harm's way.

This hilarious first installment of The Endangered Files is a wild and woolly mystery involving a missing guest, a green bird, and a bunch of double-crossing critters all hot on the trail of The Cursed Dodo. It's designed to introduce young listeners to the subject of endangered species in a fun and informative way.

So join this tough talking panda detective and a cast of endangered creatures on a globe-trotting audio adventure that will appeal to young and old alike.






HALL WAYS REVIEW:  The Case of the Cursed Dodo is engaging from the get-go.  The tone is set in the initial lines, where the narrator tells listeners that we are hearing the unfolding of a script of a long forgotten movie – of the jungle noir type, of course.

Kids and adults alike will love this action packed, hilarious story that feels like a Dick Tracy story, but with more cheesy jokes.  Author Jake Panda enjoys his plays-on-words and literary devices – and this book is pure gold for an English teacher to use in the classroom. A few examples of potential lessons:

“Bedouin Joe, a Bimini boa, sits in a booth behind glass.”
“The place was jumping like a tree frog on a trampoline.”
A “dizzy grizzly” says, “Any time, Honey,” and in response, our hero says, “I wish she wouldn’t call me that. It makes me feel all sticky; if there’s one thing I aint, it’s sweet.”

And of course, there’s the guaranteed laugh with a poop reference:

Jake pulls out his magnifying glass and examines a couple of round pellets on the ground. Jake recognizes the droppings. ‘Something must have scared the crap out of him.’”

This full cast narration is fabulous. The main narrator, Michael McConnohoie nails it with his timing and pacing and just the right dose of sarcasm. The numerous other voice actors carry off the accents and really bring life to critter characters of all shape, size, and color. A great addition is the well-placed sound effects that harken back to old time weekly radio serials. Older listeners will likely recognize some voices as nods to comedians and actors from back in the day, but kids will just laugh. It’s just a blast to listen to.

There are a lot of characters and a lot of action, so it’s super helpful that at the beginning of each chapter, there is a short recap of the prior chapter.  At just two and a half hours running time, The Case of the Cursed Dodo is long enough to give listeners plenty of entertainment, but short enough that kids won’t lose interest.

I highly recommend this audio book and look forward to more adventures from Jake the Panda, his friends, and of course, the bad guys – er, the bad critters – that make his life interesting.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions for the free download in exchange for my honest review – the only kind I give. 

Jake G. Panda is a wildlife investigator. A hardboiled Winnie-the-Pooh. He likes bamboo and saving endangered animals. He is the author of The Endangered Files, a mystery series about his misadventures in the protection business.


His partner in crime, the fella who helps write these books because, let's be honest, it's not easy typing with big, clunky bear paws, resides somewhere in New England. He has written his fair share of stuff, mostly for the big screen. And some of it has actually been projected. He likes to keep a low profile and lets Jake do all the talking.
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Dec. 10th:
Lomeraniel

Dec. 11th:
AudioSpy
Hall Ways Blog

Dec. 12th:
Lynn's Romance Enthusiasm

Dec. 13th:
Bound 4 Escape

Dec. 14th:
Desert Rose Reviews


Dec. 15th:
The Book Addict’s Reviews


Dec. 16th:
Life as Freya
Notes from 'Round the Bend

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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cowboy, It's Cold Outside ~ ~ ~ Blog Tour Promo & Giveaway!


COWBOY, 
IT'S COLD OUTSIDE
A Twilight, Texas Novel
by
LORI WILDE
  Genre:  Contemporary Holiday Romance
Date of Publication: October 27, 2017
Publisher: Avon 
on Twitter  ┃ on Facebook
Number of Pages: 400


Scroll down for the giveaway!


New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Lori Wilde’s Twilight, TX Christmas novels are beloved for their emotional depth and ability to capture the sweetness of the holiday season. In her latest Twilight, Texas novel, COWBOY, IT’S COLD OUTSIDE, the holiday season is once again full of romance and surprises.

Everyone in town knows that Christmas in Twilight has a way of bringing lovers together . . . but will its magic bring this pair from “I won’t” to “I do?”
Wearing a too-tight “Santa Baby” costume held in by a double pair of Spanx, Paige MacGregor runs headlong into a gorgeous, grey-eyed hunk of a long, tall cowboy. And not just any cowboy, but country-western star Cash Colton, visiting Twilight to perform in a charity concert. Most women would melt at his feet, but Paige knows all-too-much about self-assured men with cocky attitudes, so she tells him to get lost.

Cash is in town, nursing his own broken heart, but Paige has knocked him off his feet. He’s convinced she’s perfect—someone to inspire his music and share his now-empty bed. True, he’s not marriage material, but he’s determined to convince her that they’re perfect together—at least for a while. But what he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the one woman who isn’t about to give him the time of day!

“When it comes to striking exactly the right balance between sweet and sexy, Wilde has the equivalent of perfect pitch.” -- Booklist 



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A fifth generation Texan, Lori Wilde is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics. She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
Website ║ Twitter  Facebook


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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
Ten Winners Get Print Copies of 
A Wedding for Christmas
December 9-December 18, 2017
(U.S. Only)

VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
12/9/17
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12/10/17
Review
12/11/17
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12/12/17
Promo
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Review
12/14/17
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12/15/17
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12/16/17
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12/17/17
Review
12/18/17
Promo

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