Thursday, May 23, 2019

Bonnie and Clyde: Radioactive ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review Blitz & Giveaway!

Bonnie and Clyde #3
Genre: Historical / Alternative History / Romance 
Publisher:  Pumpjack Press on Facebook
Date of Publication: March 23, 2019
Number of Pages: 332

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Bonnie and Clyde: Defending the working class from a river of greed.
It’s January 1945, the height of World War Two. As the bloody conflict drags on, America has undertaken a massive top-secret effort to unleash the power of the atom and develop the first nuclear bomb. A network of Nazi and Soviet spies is determined to steal the technology, or failing that, sabotage the project. 

But first, they have to get past Bonnie and Clyde.

In a heart-pounding adventure spanning the windswept landscapes of eastern Washington to an isolated internment camp in the California mountains, Bonnie and Clyde face deception at every turn.

Can the former outlaws put aside their desire for revenge long enough to help end the war?

As in Resurrection Road and Dam Nation, the story cuts back and forth between 1984 where Royce, a washed-up investigative reporter, teams up with the now-elderly Bonnie Parker to hunt down the truth about their past, and the 1940s undercover exploits of the young Bonnie and Clyde.

And in Radioactive, Royce and Bonnie finally discover the devastating truth: Who Sal — the brains behind forcing Bonnie and Clyde into covert service defending the working class all those years ago — really was.

HALL WAYS REVIEW: From the beginning of the Bonnie and Clyde series, the hook for me has been “what if”? What if the notorious outlaws hadn’t died in a rain of bullets? What if they were whisked away and forced to use their unique skills to work for the US government, fighting for the good of the working class? And of course, the question persists about whether people who do so much bad can be redeemed.

Through the first two books in the series, Resurrection Road and Dam Nation, readers are taken into the speculative world of Bonnie and Clyde as government agents righting wrongs and saving the day. Readers, as well as Bonnie and Clyde, don’t know for whom, exactly, the couple is working, and that’s just one of the mysteries to be solved in book three, Radioactive.

“Trust is for fools and corpses.”

Radioactive resumes the story of Bonnie and Clyde (Brenda and Clarence Prentiss) ten years after the conclusion of Dam Nation. The couple is on assignment keeping watch and tracking the bad guys and gals – American, Russian, and German – who are attempting to interfere with the United States’s creation of the atomic bomb via the Manhattan Project.  As Bonnie and Clyde carefully narrow their field of suspects of who may be feeding secrets to the enemy, things only get more complicated, and it seems all characters have secrets and subplots of their own. Radioactive unfolds in alternating time periods, one in the '40s and the other in the '80s, both steaming ahead to different, satisfying climaxes and resolutions. Hays and McFall write a complex story, but they masterfully weave together a plethora of plot points to deliver a gangbuster tale.

“Stealing is one thing, but don’t get handsy
in the house of the Lord.”

One of the many facets that has endeared me to these books is the complicated personalities of Bonnie and Clyde. In Radioactive, the juxtaposition of the two sides of the main characters is further explored. I find it interesting to see where they draw the line for their behaviors. They are criminals at heart, but their hearts grow as they are exposed to a bigger world of greed and corruption than even they enjoyed in their outlaw heydays. There is a dichotomy in each of them; they show kindness and benevolence, have a strong sense of right and wrong, and demonstrate an intense patriotism. However, they aren’t above cheating and stealing and hurting their fellow man – or woman – if it doesn’t do much harm. I emphasize woman because the couple is all about equality in all things regardless of race, sex, or circumstance. (Oh except for the dirty communists. Rotten, all.)

Speaking of equality, it is Bonnie who is the brains of the duo, and her sharp brain and wit is used as a vehicle for some pretty serious social commentary ranging from racial inequality to gay rights to the 1%. Clyde is no dummy, but it is through Bonnie’s explanations to him that readers get both thinly veiled and blatant digs on our current administration and state of the world.  Clyde has some insightful observations himself, and the result is some short but sweet zingers that create levity when situations are tense or dismal. 

“You two go at it like river otters in heat.”

The couple is fiercely protective of and attracted to each other, and their sexual chemistry remains a focus in Radioactive, as in the other books. Their interludes provide another source of levity and distraction from the heavier themes. It borders on risqué, but the details of their escapades aren’t shared on the page. The couple’s ability to compartmentalize their lives and go from shoot-ups, hold-ups, or dire world situations to rolling in the sheets is impressive.

This was the first uncorrected proof I have read in the series but based on the final copies of the other two books, I feel confident that the final version will be finely proofread and cleanly edited. I will find out though; I intend to purchase my own final, print copy. This series is real eye-candy, outside and in. Imaginative, thought provoking, and just plain fun to read, Hays and McFall’s Bonnie and Clyde series is a must-read. I highly recommend it (and recommend it be read in sequence for maximum enjoyment). NOTE: the authors have indicated this is the last in the series, but the book ends in a way that leaves it open for more installments. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. 

Thank you to the authors and Lone Star Book Blog Tours for providing me a print ARC in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

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

Radioactive is their seventh co-authored book. 

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Kathleen: Goodreads ║ Amazon  

GRAND PRIZE: Signed copies of the full Bonnie and Clyde series
TWO WINNERS: Choice of print or eBook copy of Radioactive
May 23-June 1, 2019
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Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Wooing Cadie McCaffrey ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Excerpt, Trailer, & Giveaway!

  Genre: Christian Romance / Humor
Publisher: Revell a division of Baker Publishing Group
Date of Publication: May 21, 2019
Number of Pages: 352

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After four years with her boyfriend, Cadie McCaffrey is thinking of ending things. Convinced Will doesn’t love her in the “forever” way she loves him, Cadie believes it’s time for her to let him go before life passes her by. When a misunderstanding leads to a mistake, leaving her hurt, disappointed, and full of regret, she finally sends him packing.

But for Will, the end of their relationship is only the beginning of his quest to figure out how to be the man Cadie wanted him to be. With the dubious guidance of his former pro-athlete work friends and tactics drawn from Cadie’s favorite romantic comedies, Will attempts to win her back. It’s a foolproof plan. What could possibly go wrong?

“Rising star Bethany Turner’s Wooing Cadie McCaffrey highlights the author’s oh-so-readable voice and engaging characters. One of the many things I love about Turner is the way she tackles tough subjects with candor yet writes with the right amount of discretion. Romantics everywhere will sigh happily at the perfect ending. Highly recommended!” -- Colleen Coble, USA Today bestselling author of The House at Saltwater Point and the Rock Harbor series

Bethany Turner has done it again! Filled with wit and loaded with pop culture references, Wooing Cadie McCaffrey is sure to be an instant favorite among fans of Christian romance. I’ve found my new go-to author for rom-com with heart.” -- Carla Laureano, RITA award–winning author of The Saturday Night Supper Club and Brunch at Bittersweet Café

Prologue from Wooing Cadie McCaffrey
By Bethany Turner

Four years ago, on my thirtieth birthday, I had two very important realizations.
     1) I didn’t need a man in my life in order to be happy or fulfilled.
     2) My chances of meeting and falling in love with a man—­and having him fall in love with me—­would increase exponentially if I lowered my standards.
     Not my standards for the man, of course. No, with the introduction of realization number one, the standards for the man had never been higher. If I didn’t need a man, then there was no harm in being very picky and waiting for the right one to come along. But with the introduction of realization number two, I could no longer deny that I did very much want to be in love . . . whether I needed to be or not.
     In my heart of hearts, I knew I had no desire to settle for anything less than a man who would make at least one of the Bronte sisters proud. But there wasn’t much chance of falling in love with any man at all if I stayed hung up on the idea of my romantic life playing out like the classic novels and films I loved so much.
     Cary Grant does not exist in my Millennial world.
     Of course, I wasn’t expecting Will Whitaker to show up, or for him to burst onto the scene as if acting out a storybook meet-­cute.
     You know what a meet-­cute is, right? It’s that charming first encounter between two characters that leads to a romantic relationship between them. Suffice it to say, with realization number two, I had given up on ever experiencing a true meet-­cute. Actually, I was pretty convinced that I wouldn’t know a true meet-­cute if it fell on me. I’d spent most of my life trying to force the meet-­cute. Trust me . . . that doesn’t work. Intentionally bumping into guys and dropping your books rarely results in them saying, “Hey, let me help you with that.” I’ve found that “Hey, watch where you’re going!” is more common.
     So by the time I turned thirty, I was absolutely convinced that meet-­cutes were a thing of legend.
     Enter Will, stage left.
     It was a day like any other at ASN, the American Sports Network. That’s where I worked. ASN. But not like in sports or anything. Heavens, no. All I know of basketball, football, lacrosse, or any other sport is how much money is generated in advertising dollars as a result of our coverage of said sport, and how much all of those on-­air sports people get paid. My office is in the part of the ASN complex that the sports people call The Bench. They come to our stark wasteland of blah concrete walls for marketing and accounting needs. Perhaps the occasional human resources disaster. But then they happily return to the glitz and glamour that they refer to as The Field.

     “Gotta get back on The Field,” they love to say. On The Field? That sounds so stupid. But when I say “I’m heading over to The Field for a bit,” I am invariably met with questions that they think are hilarious. “Got some plowing to do, McCaffrey?” Sure.
     So there I was, in The Bench—­or on The Bench, as they continually correct me—­when I heard the most dreaded of all birthday sounds: about twenty tone-­deaf sports experts and about half as many barbershop quartet wannabes from The Bench, all singing “Happy Birthday.” To me, presumably.
     “Oh, wow. You shouldn’t have,” I managed to say in a way that I’m pretty sure sounded grateful, as they made their way into my office—­holding a monstrous cake ablaze with thirty giant candles.
     “Happy birthday, dear Cadie,” they belted. “Happy birthday to you!”
     I waited for Kevin Lamont, who was carrying the cake, to set it down on my desk so I could blow out the candles, but he just kept holding it. Kevin, of course, is now the host and executive producer of The Daily Dribble, the most successful show on ASN. He’s also the vice president over all prime-­time programming for the network, which makes him my boss. But back then he was simply The Daily Dribble’s host and one of my absolute favorite people around the ASN offices. And though he’s gone a bit gray and put on a little around his midsection, he certainly hasn’t lost a centimeter of height from his NBA days.
     “Make a wish and blow out the candles,” Kevin teased as he held the cake at his shoulder height—­which is still at least an inch above my head.
     “Well, I’d love to, but—”

     “Here, Cadie,” Max Post, resident sound engineer extraordinaire, chimed in as he pulled a chair over to my desk. “Climb up here.”
     “Very funny, guys,” I replied with a smile. “C’mon, Kevin. All of the wax is going to melt down onto the cake.”
     “You’d better do something about it then!” he insisted as he jutted out his chin toward a couple of former linebackers.
     In an instant, the linebackers had grabbed my arms and hoisted me up—­not onto the chair by the desk, but onto the desk itself.
     I was so grateful that after six years at ASN, I knew better than to wear a skirt to the office.
     “Very funny,” I repeated, as I did all I could to remind myself that I loved my job—­and that it wasn’t my coworkers’ fault that they were savages. They meant well, and I knew that everything they were doing was an attempt to show me that they cared. They just happened to be from a culture in which you showed someone you cared by snapping them with a wet towel in the locker room.
     I was ready to end the spectacle, so I took in a deep breath and prepared to use every bit of power my lungs could muster to blow out those thirty massive candles in one fell swoop. But just as I released the pressure of air, Lindy Mason called out from the hallway.
     “Hey, everyone. Montana’s here.”
     Kevin turned his 6’9” frame toward the door—­and my cake went with him.
     “Happy birthday, Cadie!” scattered voices called out as they left me in favor of Joe Montana, who was on The Field for an interview. An interview that they’d been waiting months for—­but that only about eight of them were actually required to be present for. The others were just going as fans who happened to get paid to gawk at their heroes.
     “Sorry, McCaffrey,” Kevin said as he shrugged and handed me the cake.
     “Et tu, Kevin Lamont?”
     He smiled and winked as he said, “Next time, don’t have your birthday on a day a legend is scheduled to be in the studio.” And then he ran out after everyone else.

Bethany Turner is the award-winning author of The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which was a Christy Award finalist. When she’s not writing (and even when she is), she serves as the director of administration for Rock Springs Church in Southwest Colorado. She lives with her husband and their two sons in Colorado, where she writes for a new generation of readers who crave fiction that tackles the thorny issues of life with humor and insight.
Grand Prize: Copies of Wooing Cadie McCaffrey and The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck + stationery set
2nd Prize: Copy of Wooing Cadie McCaffrey + bookish coffee mug
3rd Prize: Copy of Wooing Cadie McCaffrey + $10 Amazon Gift Card

May 21-May 31, 2019
(U.S. Only)
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BONUS Review
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Monday, May 20, 2019

Exposed ~ France Book Tours Review & Giveaway!


by Jean-Philippe Blondel

Translated from the French by Alison Anderson
Release date: June 4, 2019
157 pages
ISBN: 978-1939931672
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A French teacher on the verge of retirement is invited to a glittering opening that showcases the artwork of his former student, who has since become a celebrated painter. This unexpected encounter leads to the older man posing for his portrait. Possibly in the nude. Such personal exposure at close range entails a strange and troubling pact between artist and sitter that prompts both to reevaluate their lives.

Blondel, author of the hugely popular novel The 6:41 to Paris, evokes an intimacy of dangerous intensity in a tale marked by profound nostalgia and a reckoning with the past that allows its two characters to move ahead into the future. 

Buy the book | or on Indiebound or Amazon

Exposed deals with the joys and uncertainties of youth, as well as aging and regret, thwarted friendships and loves, and nostalgia and searching for renewal. It’s beautifully written and sensitively translated from French, highly engaging and accessible to a wide array of readers. It contains no explicit sex or anything that would put off a reader open to the experience of good literature.”



Hall Ways Review:  In an effort to reconnect with my Francophile side, I recently decided to join a tour group that is the French equivalent of Lone Star Lit. France Book Tours is all about books and authors with a French connection, and Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel is the first book I took for review. My heart is happier for the brief foray into the world of Louis Claret, a middle-aged Frenchman who devours novels “with the regularity of a metronome.”

“My horizons have expanded, but my life has shrunk. It’s not a paradox. It’s a fate we all share. When constraints begin to fade, we don’t know how to fill our new freedom.”

Exposed invokes a certain melancholy, perhaps because I am a similar age to the main character, Louis, or perhaps because of Louis’s frequent reflections of bygone days. The book forces introspection, exploration, and even valuation of one’s true self; hence the title. The characters remove the layers of their lives to expose what is beneath. Interestingly enough, the reader isn’t necessarily privy to seeing what’s there below the trappings. Both Louis and Alexandre are private people; readers are intentionally kept at arm’s length from them and from knowing the characters too well.

“He came forward…emanating that sort of presence that only success and the prime of one’s mid-thirties can give – when an individual is making his way, and trial and error are behind him, and fatigue has not yet set in.”

Author Jean-Philippe Blondel’s use of imagery and figurative language breathes life into every page. Reading a book like this, true literary fiction, makes me long for something…something I can’t quite put my finger on. Whatever it is, while reading Exposed, for just a little while, I am somewhere other than in the confines of my day-to-day world. Every time I step away from the novel, I feel blanketed by the memory of it. It has staying power.

What strikes me in this beautiful, lyrical novel, is that it’s a translation from the French, as the literary world says, and Alison Anderson’s work is flawless. Honestly, the writing is superior to many of the novels I read which are in their original language. I am thoroughly impressed with Anderson’s translation, and I am tempted to order a copy of the novel in French because certainly, the source writing must be as beautiful.

Exposed doesn’t have screaming, climactic events. It doesn’t have big bang moments or mysteries to be solved. It is not action-packed. Exposed is about self-discovery and reflection upon a life lived and about living life. For readers who enjoy immersing themselves into a character, and for those who savor the nuances of growing older and seeing the world through a mature and contemplative lens, I highly recommend Exposed.

Thank you to the publisher and France Book Tours for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give.



Jean-Philippe Blondel was born in 1964 in Troyes, France where he lives as an author and English teacher. His novel The 6:41 to Paris has been acclaimed in both the United States and Europe.


Alison Anderson is a novelist and translator of literature from French. Among the authors she has translated are JMG Le Clézio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amélie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.



5 Winners 
Global giveaway open to all US residents



Wednesday, May 15
Bilingual Review + Giveaway at Mangeusede livres

Friday, May 17
Review + Giveaway at Readerbuzz

Monday, May 20
Review + Giveaway at Hall Ways Blog

Tuesday, May 21

Wednesday, May 22
Review + Excerpt at Locks, Hooks and Books

Thursday, May 23

Friday, May 24
Review + Excerpt at Book Dilettante

Tuesday, May 28
Review + Giveaway at Words and Peace