Sunday, September 30, 2018

Bombshell ~ an Ava Romantic Mystery


AN AVA ROMANTIC MYSTERY
WHAT DOESN'T KILL YOU, #9
Narrated by Chante McCormick
Publisher: SkipJack Publishing
Published: June 18, 2018
Run-Time: 9 hours, 2 minutes
Adult / Suspense / Mature Content
Rating: ✪✪✪✪

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HALL WAYS REVIEW: Audio book review. WOWSA. Bombshell is the ninth book in the What Doesn’t Kill You series by Pamela Fagan Hutchins (and the fourth for me), and it’s the first of three books in the Ava stories. Now back to the WOWSA. Ava is a fabulous (and fabulously flawed) character and there is a lot of train wrecks going on to keep you engaged. But be warned: there are graphic scenes that have left scars on my face from the heat! Use headphones!

“Repression is my friend. And no, I don’t let anyone
blame women for the bad things men do.”

If you like your characters flawed, then Ava is your gal. In Ava’s world, there are a whirlwind of plots and sub-plots and side-stories galore. Based on the other books I have read in this series (all the Emily books), I think the chaos of lives fully lived must be a trademark of Hutchins’s stories. And let’s face it: the chaos of living is very realistic thing. I mean, who do I know (self included) that doesn’t have a million things happening in her life? A million fires to put out? Doesn’t deal with “when it rains it pours” on a regular basis? No one. That’s why even though Ava is about as different from me as can be, she’s still me in a lot of ways. It makes reading Bombshell feel more personal.

Bombshell is categorized as “romantic mystery,” but I don’t think that’s quite right. While the ending of the book hints at a romance to come, the relationships in Bombshell are far from my definition of romantic. They are more about lust than love and pining for someone other than the person you’re getting nasty with doesn’t qualify as romance. As for the mystery label? Maybe. The murderer is obvious early on; however, another story branches off, and it may or may not be related to the murders, so there is some mystery there and plenty of suspense. An interesting addition to the story is a paranormal element: the influence and ghost of Annalise, who returns from the first books in the series.

Author Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes characters and scenes that feel authentic and jump from the page. Her descriptions of the island of St. Marcus, the island life, and the rich cast of characters put readers right in to the setting. Everything in the story is there for a reason, and that’s one thing I have enjoyed in reading Hutchins’s books. Bombshell is no different, but a scene with an intentional political statement felt awkward and unnecessary (though I did enjoy the jab) plus including a specific current event will date the book.   

“I spent an idyllic Saturday with my daught
er and parents, and that s**t is hard work.”

I don’t love Ava, but Hutchins made me feel invested in Ava. I want Ava to do better and be better; I want her to stop sweeping everything aside to deal with later; I want her to take care of her child and her parents. By the end of Bombshell, there are indications some of what I want for Ava might happen, but there is a lot that is unresolved and even unrealistic. Given this is just the first of the three Ava books (Stunner and Knockout are the others), and despite Bombshell ending with a sorta-feel-good scene, there’s no way there aren’t going to be sparks and tension and messes to come that will likely entice me back to the series. (Just with a good set of headphones and a fan.)

ABOUT THE NARRATION. At first, I was thrown by the narration by Chante McCormick. I had expectations of how Ava would sound (based on her appearance in the Emily audio books), so I had to sync with the new voice. As always, I found the pace too slow and I listened at 1.25x and even 1.5x at times.  I really enjoyed McCormick’s smooth transitions into the Caribbean patois of Ava and other characters. There wasn’t a clear pattern for when Ava spoke in island voice – sometimes her internal monologue/narration/dialogue was in plain ol’ American English and other times it was island English – but it was always fun to hear and reinforced the setting. There are a few odd pronunciations, but overall, I’d say McCormick was an excellent choice for narrating a complicated person’s life and stories.

Thank you to Audiobookworm Promotions for allowing me to adopt this book for review in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I like big butts and I cannot lie: horse butts that is. As in draft cross horses, which I ride with my hunky husband way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, WY and deep in the heart of Nowheresville, TX. I am a wannabe barrel racer afraid of going fast, an eater of ribeye, and the author of the What Doesn't Kill You world of romantic mysteries. 

{By the way, to get free exclusives, first looks, and special deals, subscribe to my newsletter.} 

When I'm not writing or riding, I'm passionate about hiking, always with a couple of rescue dogs (and an occasional goat and donkey), bear spray, a mountain lion knife, and my Judge. NO ANIMALS HAVE BEEN HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS LIFE ADVENTURE (but don't sneak up on me). 

I've won some awards, yada yada. The 2017 Silver Falchion for Best Adult Mystery WINNER (Fighting for Anna), the 2016 and 2015 WINNERS for USA Best Books Fiction: Cross Genre (Hell to Pay, Heaven to Betsy), and others. With downloads of nearly 2,000,000 for the What Doesn't Kill You world, readers seem to enjoy my smart, sassy female sleuths--I think they have exceptionally good taste. {insert silly grin here} Lots of them follow my podcast, too, where I fangirl my favorite authors and interview them for your listening pleasure. 

If after all that you still want to learn more about my books, my podcast, or me, then God Bless Ya, and head over to my website.


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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

100 Things to Do in Dallas Fort Worth Before You Die ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours promo, review, & giveaway!


100 THINGS TO DO 
IN DALLAS FORT WORTH
BEFORE YOU DIE
2ND EDITION
by
TUI SNIDER

  Genre: Non-Fiction / Texas Travel
Publisher: Reedy Press   Twitter   ⎸  Facebook
Date of Publication: September 15, 2018
Number of Pages: 160 with black & white images

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Have you ever drawn a blank when a friend or family member asks, “What do you want to do today?” Maybe you have visitors to show around the Dallas - Fort Worth Metroplex, or perhaps you’ve lived here for years but feel like you’re in a rut rather than experiencing anything new.

If so, Tui Snider’s new book is for you! If you live in, or are visiting, the DFW region, this list will inspire you to start exploring. If you’re hungry, flip through the Food & Drink section. Looking for entertainment or want to get outdoors? Dig into the Music & Entertainment or the Sports & Recreation sections. Want to barter for antiques or see a museum? Check out the Culture & History or the Shopping & Fashion sections.

This book is a playful bucket list of suggestions meant to spark ideas: everything from family outings, date nights, and solo excursions, to simply hanging out with friends on your day off.







✪✪✪✪✪
HALL WAYS BONUS REVIEW:
Final score: the book wins 57 to 43. Time to expand my local horizons.

100 Things to Do in Dallas-Fort Worth Before You Die is a fabulous guidebook that gives concise but informative overviews of one hundred plus places and activities in the DFW Metroplex. By the way, the DFW Metroplex, I learned, is a 9,286 square MILES area! Wow! Author Tui Snider's travel writing skills are on point as she shares the places and tidbits about each that make north Texas so unique.  

As a Fort Worth, Texas-born gal, I was raised in a family where my momma was always seeking-out and taking us to the cool, off-the-beaten-track places and festivals. Even with that upbringing and the majority of my fifty plus years lived in DFW, I found over half the one hundred places in the books are sights and activities (57 of them, to be exact) I have never experienced -- and a bunch I had never even heard of!

An awesome aspect to 100 Things is that it really is an excellent resource for locals to not only have on hand for visitors but to use as a source for new ideas and a lot of reminiscing.  Some of my favorite childhood memories and restaurant experiences were made at places mentioned in the book (like Burger's Lake Fossil Rim, and the National Cowgirl Museum, and Bonnell's, Ol' South Pancake House and Edelweiss). After reading 100 Things, I realize that I am a creature of habit with the local activities I enjoy: for example, Grapevine does not have the only wine trail; Fort Worth does not have the only ghost tour. I plan on getting a bunch of copies of this guide for my local friends and family to enjoy. 

The “Hundred Things” is actually well over a hundred because of the glorious sub-lists in many sections. Plus, there are lots of extra cultural details, statistics, and tidbits thrown in that add an extra layer of interest. Again, much of what’s included is new information to me that reinforces DFW has some of the biggest and best events in the US.  The organization of the book, which includes a divided table of contents, index, suggested itineraries, and activities by season, and website addresses really helps users find what they need for quick reference.  Especially helpful are the "Free Family Fun" and "Rainy Day Fun" lists.  Also included in the book are interesting photos sprinkled throughout the book that add interest, though they are not clearly labeled. I am okay with the small selection of photos and that they are black and white since the purpose and focus of 100 Things is informational.

The book is well-edited, the writing is clear and friendly, and the generous white space and formatting make it very user friendly and easy to read (as opposed to other guides that pack too much on a single page with teeny-tiny print). There are a few places where it seems like there are no spaces between words, and this Grammar Policewoman issues only a few citations for some misspelled words and comma issues. (Though the Neiman Marcus police might have a full warrant for arrest out!) Snider gets an Award of Excellence for being on Team Oxford Comma, which counters any punctuation pitfalls. The issues are all minor and none detracts from the overall fabulousness of this book.  I can't wait to plan a staycation to include some new excursions and also to re-visit some old favorites around my own stomping grounds. 


I subscribe to Tui Snider's newsletter (you should to) and answered the author's call a while back when she asked for suggestions of places to include in the book. What a surprise to find I am mentioned in the acknowledgments! I am excited and honored -- just like I was to finally meet the author at the AME Book Fest in July. When I was there, I bought another copy of her book Understanding Cemetery Symbols and arranged for my gorgeous signed print copy of 100 Things to be sent when it was hot off the presses. There were no strings attached, and my bonus review, shared via Lone Star Book Blog Tours, is my honest opinion -- the only kind I give. 

Planning my staycation while on vacation!
Meeting Tui at AME Book Fest

Tui Snider is an author, speaker, and photographer who specializes in hometown travel. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction – but then, I moved to Texas!” Snider's work has been featured by a variety of outlets, including Coast to Coast AM, LifeHackeasyJet and Authentic Texas. Snider’s award-winning books include Unexpected Texas, Paranormal Texas, Understanding Cemetery Symbols, and more. Tui enjoys connecting with readers all over the globe through her WEBSITE.




◆  WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  
◆  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  ◆
◆  INSTAGRAM  
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
 1ST PRIZE: Signed Copy + $5 Amazon Gift Card
2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy
3RD PRIZE: eBook Copy
(US ONLY)
  September 18-October 2, 2018
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
9/18/18
Excerpt
9/19/18
Guest Post
9/20/18
Review
9/21/18
Excerpt
9/22/18
Author Interview
9/23/18
Review
9/24/18
Bonus Review
9/25/18
Review
9/26/18
Guest Post
9/26/18
BONUS Review
9/27/18
Review






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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Mistletoe Miracles ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Promo

MISTLETOE MIRACLES
Ransom Canyon
by
JODI THOMAS

  Sub-genre: Holiday Romance / Western
Publisher: HQN
Date of Publication: September 25, 2018
Number of Pages: 354

Scroll down for an exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas! 

A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas. Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another. Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?

In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit. 


”Deeply poignant moments and artfully
rendered characters create a rich story that
transports readers to an idyllic place.”
Publishers Weekly


CLICK TO PURCHASE!

A fifth-generation Texan, New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Jodi Thomas chooses to set the majority of her novels in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A former teacher, Thomas traces the beginning of her storytelling career to the days when her twin sisters were young and impressionable. 

With a degree in family studies, Thomas is a marriage and family counselor by education, a background that enables her to write about family dynamics. Honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Thomas enjoys interacting with students on the West Texas A&M University campus, where she currently serves as Writer in Residence.

Commenting on her contribution to the arts, Thomas said, “When I was teaching classes full-time, I thought I was making the world a better place. Now I think of a teacher or nurse or mother settling back and relaxing with one of my books. I want to take her away on an adventure that will entertain her. Maybe, in a small way, I’m still making the world a better place.”

When not working on a novel or inspiring students to pursue a writing career, Thomas enjoys traveling with her husband, renovating a historic home they bought in Amarillo and checking up on their two grown sons.

◆  WEBSITE  ◆  FACEBOOK  ◆  TWITTER  
◆  AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE  ◆  INSTAGRAM  
◆  GOODREADS AUTHOR PAGE   

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An exclusive giveaway from Jodi Thomas!
(No purchase necessary. Transportation is not included. Winner will have one year to select available dates. Limit of four people at the condo for selected dates. No exchanges.)
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
9/25/18
Promo
9/25/18
Promo
9/26/18
Review
9/27/18
Author Interview
9/27/18
Excerpt
9/28/18
Review
9/29/18
Author Interview
9/29/18
Excerpt
9/30/18
Review
10/1/18
Review
10/2/18
Excerpt
10/2/18
BONUS Review
10/3/18
Promo
10/3/18
BONUS Review
10/4/18
Review
10/4/18
Review



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