Tuesday, April 9, 2024

A Beggar's Bargain ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Book Trailer and Giveaway!


The Bargainer Series, Book One
Jan Sikes

Historical Fiction / Literary Fiction
Publisher: Fresh Ink Group
Date of Publication: March 12, 2024
Number of Pages: 324 pages 

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A shocking proposal that changes everything

Desperate to honor his father’s dying wish, Layken Martin vows to do whatever it takes to save the family farm.

Once the Army discharges him following World War II, Layken returns to Missouri to find his legacy in shambles and in jeopardy. A foreclosure notice from the bank doubles the threat. He appeals to the local banker for more time—a chance to rebuild, plant, and harvest crops and for time to heal far away from the noise of bombs and gunfire.

But the banker firmly denies his request. Now what?

Then, the banker makes an alternative proposition—marry his unwanted daughter, Sara Beth, in exchange for a two-year extension. Out of options, money, and time, Layken agrees to the bargain.

Now, he has two years to make a living off the land while he shares his life with a stranger.

If he fails at either, he’ll lose it all.

Jan Sikes writes compelling and creative stories from the heart.

She openly admits that she never set out in life to be an author, although she’s been an avid reader all her life. But she had a story to tell. Not just any story, but a true story that rivals any fiction creation. She brought the entertaining true story to life through fictitious characters in an intricately woven tale that encompasses four books, accompanying music CDs, and a book of poetry and art.

And now, this author can’t put down the pen. She continues to write fiction in a variety of genres and has published many award-winning short stories and novels.

Jan is an active blogger, a member of Story Empire, a devoted fan of Texas music, and a grandmother of five. She resides in North Texas.

Two winners receive $20 Amazon gift cards;
Two winners receive eBook copies of A Beggar’s Bargain
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/19/24)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Shahrazad's Gift ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Notable Quotables & Giveaway!

Gretchen McCullough

Contemporary Fiction / Linked Short Stories / Humor
Publisher: Cune Press
Date of Publication: February 20, 2024
Number of Pages: 198 pages 

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Shahrazad’s Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo—magical, absurd and humorous. The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight Errant, before their escapades in that story.

These stories are told in the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights.

Notable Quotables
from Shahrazad’s Gift

From the “Empty Flat Upstairs”

“I know that salacious, immoral things are happening in that flat,” Keiko told the bawab, the porter. (This was a good chance to use the old-fashioned Arabic vocabulary she was learning in her Arabic Linguistics class.)


From a “Little Honey and a Little Sunlight”

Give me the skinny, doc,” I said, as if I were a real swashbuckler. Not the moment of reckoning, the last hurrah, the final goodbye, the diminishing hourglass. He was shining a slender flashlight, the size of a cigarillo, into my eyes. For a moment, I saw a wondrous rainbow. But when I blinked again, Dr. Ivanov’s violet blue eyes were scrutinizing me. Instead of my ratty blue jeans with the Grateful Dead patch over the bum, I was wearing a crinkled paper gown.


From “Taken Hostage by the Ugly Duck”

The day after Hoda was hit in the ear with a rotten egg thrown by her British neighbor, she adopted a blue heron. Complaining to her friends had not been enough, complaining to the landlord and the bawab had not been enough, complaining to her husband had not been enough. She had never suffered such humiliation! She had marched to the Friday bird market and bought the bird with the harshest call.


From “The Charm”

With the two of us, the carpet slid out from underneath the bed. And there was Shushu. The wound from her breast operation had never healed, where she had torn out the stitches. Tiny black things were crawling all over her. “My God,” Sheri said, “Shushu is being eaten.”


From “Ice”

“What I didn’t tell you. I was on Hezbollah’s Most Wanted List. Along with Robert Fisk.”


From “Tiger”

I closed my eyes for a minute—I really needed to crash. My eyes felt grainy and I had a headache. When I opened them, I realized our taxi driver didn’t have any legs.


From “On the Run: Part I”

I became a WANTED MAN. The Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on me: “Professor Tanks Career over Contaminated Fish. Creates Dangerous New Water Computer Virus. Still Missing.”


From “On the Run: Part II”

“The demonstration against the BIG MAN and HIS MEN has become violent,” Kharalombos said. “Anyone who disobeys the curfew will be shot.”


Gretchen McCullough was raised in Harlingen Texas. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, she taught in Egypt, Turkey, and Japan. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama and was awarded a teaching Fulbright to Syria from 1997-1999. Her stories, essays and reviews have appeared in The Barcelona Review, Archipelago, National Public Radio, Story South, Guernica, The Common, The Millions, and the LA Review of Books. Translations in English and Arabic have been published in: Nizwa, Banipal, Brooklyn Rail in Translation, World Literature Today and Washington Square Review with Mohamed Metwalli. Her bi-lingual book of short stories in English and Arabic, Three Stories From Cairo, translated with Mohamed Metwalli, was published in July 2011 by AFAQ Publishing House, Cairo. A collection of short stories about expatriate life in Cairo, Shahrazad’s Tooth, was also published by AFAQ in 2013. Currently, she is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo.


Two winners receive paperbacks.
One winner receives the eBook of Shahrazad’s Gift.

(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/12/24)

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Monday, March 25, 2024

Amethyst, The Shallows ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Pop-Up Blog-Hop Spotlight & Giveaway!

Kellye Abernathy

YA / Magical Realism / Coming of Age
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Page Count: 296 pages
Publication Date: February 6, 2024

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"This is a night for being brave."

In the aftermath of a devastating sickness that shatters their close-knit beach town, six lonely kids are drawn together during the unpredictable autumn equinox. Among them are fourteen-year-old Lorelei, who yearns to be an oceanographer, and her peculiar younger brother, Tad, who possesses an otherworldly curiosity.

When Lorelei has a strange and almost deadly encounter in a sea cave, her loyal boyfriend, Casey, cannot reconcile her fantastical experience with the rational world. Condi, Lorelei's best friend, understands ocean magic but isn't free to share what she knows. Kait, a girl from Ireland, regrets her impulsive move to America--all because of an odd occurrence involving her deceased boyfriend's lost surfboard. When tides turn and the moon shifts, Isaac, the new kid in town who despises the ocean, is forced to face the truth--a profound and powerful magic lives in the deep.

Guided by a wise surf master, mystical old women known as the Beachlings, and an open-hearted grandmother, six kids embark on transformative adventures that challenge their beliefs about possibilities and the intense nature of love.

Amethyst, the Shallows is the companion novel to The Aquamarine Surfboard.


Kellye Abernathy's passions are writing and serving trauma survivors as a yoga teacher and practical life skills advocate. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Secondary English Education from the University of Kansas. Her home is in land-locked Plano, Texas—where she’s dreaming of her next trip to the sea!

receive autographed two-book sets
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 4/19/24)

Friday, March 22, 2024

Frowns and Gowns ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Book Blitz, Review, & Giveaway!

The Mischief Series, Book 5

Children’s Chapter Book / Fantasy / Fairies
Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press
Page Count: 236
Publication Date: September 12, 2023

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Embark on a Magical Adventure with Lilly, Boris, and Jack!

Get ready to join Lilly, Boris, and Jack on an unforgettable journey filled with excitement, laughter, and a touch of mayhem. Brace yourself for a whirlwind of mishaps as these three fairies plan a magnificent magical ball, only to encounter an unforeseen disaster! Experience the magic of friendship with Lilly, the quick-witted and resourceful fairy, Boris, the mischievous fairy with a heart of gold, and Jack, the troublemaker with a curious, adventurous spirit on their latest adventure.

Throughout, Lilly, Boris, and Jack teach the true meaning of friendship and teamwork. Together with their friends, they'll overcome challenges, learn valuable lessons, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Don't miss out on this enchanting tale!


HALL WAYS REVIEW: Oh, my heart. Frowns and Gowns is the fifth book in Amanda M. Thrasher’s The Mischief Series, but it’s the first I’ve read, and I am hooked. Time spent between the pages is a perfectly sweet and magical place for young readers (and Mimis) to escape the real world for a while. Even though my oldest granddaughter is only four, I am already imagining her staying a week at Mimi’s and Granddad’s, and my reading this chapter book to her – one sparkly minute at a time.

What struck me was the respect and politeness the little fairlings show for each other and for the adult fairies and creatures in their lives. They mostly follow the rules (I’m looking at you, Boris and Jack), and they often think about the consequences of their actions and encounters with others. Reading Frowns and Gowns made me realize how much I value, and miss, thoughtfulness and consideration.

What terrific examples these young fairies set for readers. Sure, there’s mischief in the mix because that’s life, but it is fun and funny and delightfully descriptive. And the sweets! I could definitely relate to Boris and his affinity for the foods prepared for and presented to the fairies. I’ll have one (or six) of everything, please.

Jumping in so late in the series, there were definitely a few things that piqued my curiosity, so I must go back to the beginning to find out what’s so special about Lilly, why is the invisible Agent Chester assigned to her, and what kind of danger could there possibly be in this lovely mushroom patch (beyond the friendly, but stinky, moss ball attacks)?

The librarian in me appreciates that Thrasher stretches the vocabulary level so that young readers (or those absorbing the story through a read-aloud) are exposed to more robust word choices than the norm. Plus, there are so many talking points and scenes that can springboard into other activities. This series would be a great addition to any classroom or school library. (And Mimi’s library, too.) 

Award-winning author Amanda M. Thrasher was born in England and moved to Texas, where she lives with her family. She writes YA, general fiction, middle grade, early reader chapter, and picture books. She is the founder and CEO of Progressive Rising Phoenix Press.


receive autographed, paperback sets
of all five books in The Mischief Series
+ $25 Starbucks gift card
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 03/28/24)

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Tuesday, March 19, 2024

The Desk from Hoboken ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Spotlight & Giveaway!

A Genealogy Mystery, #1
ML Condike

Mystery / Women Sleuths / Forensic Genealogy
Publisher: Harbor Lane Books, LLC
Date of Publication: March 5, 2024
Number of Pages: 446 pages 

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After a personal loss, forensic genealogist RaeJean Hunter accepts what she believes is a straightforward case to ease back into the game: a student at Connecticut College has found human remains on the school campus. The College hires RaeJean to confirm their tentative identification that it’s a woman named Mary Rogers, whose cause of death has never been determined.

Unfortunately, it becomes downright dangerous. Someone thwarts her investigation of the same case that inspired Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” Still, she meets relatives, some helpful and others not, amid escalating threats. Using her skills, including DNA analysis, historical records research, genealogy mapping, and guidance from a mystical antique desk, she follows every clue.

ML Condike’s novel, The Desk from Hoboken, is the first in a genealogy mystery three-book series. She also has short stories published in five anthologies. ML Condike completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path in Dallas in 2019 and is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime North Dallas, Granbury Writers’ Bloc, and Key West Writers Guild.

1st: signed paperback and Corgi plush toy
2nd: signed paperback and $25 Amazon gift card
3rd: choice of $25 gift card or signed paperback
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 03/29/24)

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Reap the Wind ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours First Line & Giveaway!


Action-Adventure / Suspense / Climate Change / EcoThriller
Publisher: Milford House Press, an imprint of Sunbury Books, Inc.
Date of Publication: February 6, 2024
Number of Pages: 215 pages 

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Reap the Wind is a thrilling action/adventure novel that follows three lawyers as they embark on a treacherous journey from Houston to Cincinnati during a catastrophic hurricane. Josh Goldberg is on a mission to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their child. Along the way, they'll face terrifying obstacles like tornadoes, hailstorms, and driving rain. But the real danger may come from within as they struggle to survive each other's company. His two travel companions—his best friend, a drug-addicted lawyer, and his conniving boss who has her own agenda.

Don't miss out on this unforgettable odyssey that might just be a suicide trip.


"Reap the Wind is a bold, bracing and blisteringly original take on the legal thriller form. Joel Burcat has fashioned a seminal tale focusing on the nightmare of all road trips in which a storm raging outside the car is matched only by the storm raging within. Burcat dares to tread on the hallowed ground of John Grisham and Scott Turow and ends up blazing a fresh, daring literary tale of his own. Not to be missed!"
—Jon Land, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author


Joel Burcat is an award-winning author of three environmental legal thrillers: Drink to Every Beast (illegal dumping of toxic waste), Amid Rage (a coal mine permit battle), and Strange Fire (a fracking dispute). His most recent book, Reap the Wind, is about three lawyers trying to drive from Houston to Cincinnati in a climate change-induced hurricane.

He has received a number of awards, including the Gold Medal for environmental fiction from Readers’ Favorite for Strange Fire, and as a Finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for Amid Rage. He has written numerous short stories. Burcat imbues his novels with facts to educate his readers about critical environmental issues while they are being entertained by the story.

Burcat’s books are infused with realism developed over a forty plus year career as an environmental lawyer.

Signed copy of REAP THE WIND
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 03/15/24)