Friday, May 31, 2024

Bound in Silence ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Book Review Preview, Trailer, & Giveaway!

An Unsolved Murder in a Small Texas Town
Christena Stephens

Nonfiction / True Crime / Texas History
Publisher: Stoney Creek Publishing
Page Count: 286 pages
Publication Date: February 26, 2024

Scroll down for a giveaway!

On a nearly moonless night in October 1943, a single gunshot rang out in Littlefield, Texas. A prominent Texas doctor and his wife were found bound, shot, beaten, and murdered. The only witness: their five-year-old daughter, who was bound to silence and refused to speak about what happened for 70 years.

The heinous crime remains unsolved. For years, the courts tried to convict one suspect, but forensic evidence contradicted the prosecution’s case. Investigators, including the famed Texas Rangers, failed to bring anyone to justice.

Eight decades later, the questions linger over the plains of the Texas Panhandle: who killed the Hunts and why?

Author and historian Christena Stephens spent more than a decade researching the Hunt murders, re-examining every twist and turn in the legal process, uncovering new evidence, and drawing new conclusions about who might have been responsible. She also convinced Jo Ann Hunt to break 70 years of silence and tell her story for the first time. Armed with Jo Ann’s account, Stephens takes the reader back to that deadly night and through the years of trauma that followed.

Why did the criminal justice system repeatedly fail to bring anyone to justice? What could have scared a 5-year-old girl into a lifetime of silence? What did investigators miss? And most importantly, who killed Roy and Mae Hunt?

Bound in Silence is a true crime tour-de-force, a meticulously researched, impeccably told tale of unsolved murder on the High Plains.


Hall Ways Blog Review: Coming soon!
Seven or eight years ago, I was fortunate enough to get to read the first iteration of the manuscript, then known as "The Hunt Story." It was printed on a fat stack of copy paper, held together with a binder clip, and I remember being fascinated by the story and flabbergasted by the amount of research Christena had done and the level of detail she provided. When her book landed with Stoney Creek Publishing, I cheered! I now have a finished copy (with very special inscription), and I look forward to reading it and closing the circle of my journey with this book. What a privilege it will be to see it from start to finish. 

Christena Stephens is a native Texan growing up amongst cotton fields and spending time exploring the nature of the Llano Estacado. After earning two Master of Science degrees, she started a project to preserve ahistorical Texas ranch, thus began her interest in history, research, and writing. She did not intend to be a historian but was mentored by the best Texas historians. Several of her writings have been published in anthologies, along with her photographs. In science and history, truths need to be accurately told. That is her mission-truth and authenticity. She still resides on the Llano Estacado enjoying sunsets and chance porcupine encounters. She is an ardent advocate of wildlife conservation and her heart belongs to her dogs.

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Friday, May 24, 2024

The Ghost of Whispering Willow ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Review & Giveaway!

Second Edition

Children's Chapter Book / Fantasy / Paranormal

Publisher: Progressive Rising Phoenix Press

Page Count: 246

Publication Date: January 9, 2024


Stewart sees a ghostly figure out of the corner of his eye. He and his friend, Andy, begin a ghost investigation that leads to an adventure of a lifetime.  Coming face-to-face with a ghost, the boys make a decision to join forces with a group of girls, who have encountered a ghost of their own. The kids soon find that the ghosts that they've encountered are in imminent danger and need their help. Can the kids devise a plan to help the ghost in time? Will they be able to reunite a ghost with his lost family? Complete with a ghost village and a feud, this story takes on a life of its own.

HALL WAYS BOOK REVIEW:  What a fun story! The Ghost of Whispering Willow offers spine-tingling adventure and mystery with a what-if plot that will keep readers turning pages. 

What if there are spirits who exist between the living and the dead and have unknown purposes to fulfill before moving on to rest in peace? Author Amanda Thrasher spins a tale around two such characters, but in an unusual twist, these spirits are corporeal, and their daily rituals mirror those of the living. (Personally, that would be hell to me if even in the afterlife, I have to do laundry and cook meals. I digress.) This added an extra level of intrigue -- and danger -- to the storyline.
"How come they do everything as a group, including dirty looks?"
If you've read any of Thrasher's other books for younger readers (I'm a huge fan of The Mischief Series), you know that she nails the youngling personae. Through well-written dialogue, I could easily imagine the gaggle of girls interacting with the pack of boys and the terms they create for teaming up for a common cause. The diverse group of tweens in The Ghost of Whispering Willow are drawn perfectly and reminded me of my own junior high days (sneaking out and all) as well as my days teaching kids that age.  Thrasher is all about modeling how loyalty and friendship should be, and it's a real treat to read. (Even if the parent in me is VERY concerned about all the sneaking out! Danger! Danger!)

This edition of The Ghost of Whispering Willow is updated from the original 2012 edition, and I love the new cover (but truly, I loved the old one, too). I was surprised to see some scattered typos (especially in the last twenty-five pages), and I would have liked more showing and less telling; there were a lot of summative paragraphs. But I understand that to do so effectively would have doubled the size of the book, and then it might have been a bit much for the targeted age group. I get that, but I know I wanted more, especially after the build up to that heartwarming, perfect resolution.

The ending of The Ghost of Whispering Willow hits readers with a rapid-fire frenzy of events that had my pulse pounding and then my heart melting. This is a terrific reading escape that I recommend for sixth graders and older. 

I am pleased to own a cherished autographed copy of this book that the author gave me at the Texas Library Association Annual Conference. 



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.






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+ $25 Starbucks gift card.
US only; ends midnight, May 30, 2024
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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Second Lives ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours Audiobook Blitz!

The Journey of Brain-Injury Survivors
and Their Healers
By Ralph B. Lilly, MD & Diane F. Kramer with Joyce Stamp Lilly
Narrated by Loren C. Steffy & Joyce Stamp Lilly

Audiobook / Biography / Medical Professionals / Neuroscience
Publisher: Stoney Creek Publishing
Listening Length: 6 hours and 21 minutes
Publication Date: February 28, 2024


Click to purchase on Audible!


“Discharged from a hospital just means you’re not dead.” These words of Ralph B. Lilly, M.D., describe his early struggle to recover from a traumatic brain injury. Lilly was a forty-four-year-old practicing neurologist sitting on his motorcycle at a red light when a drunk driver rear-ended him in 1980. In the ICU, after regaining consciousness and being told what happened, he asked, “What’s a hospital? What’s a motorcycle?” This tragic experience transformed his life and his approach to his neurology practice: doctors treat those with brain injury; but loved ones heal them.

Second Lives: The Journey of Brain Injury Survivors and Their Healers is written by Dr. Lilly and Diane F. Kramer. After his death in 2021, Kramer completed the book with the assistance of Lilly’s wife Joyce Stamp Lilly. This memoir weaves together Ralph Lilly’s experience with a collage of stories about his patients and their healers. After his recovery, Lilly retrained in the emerging field of behavioral neurology, which focuses on behavior, memory, cognition, and emotion after brain injury.

His clinical skills and expert witness testimony were sought by physicians, survivors, families, and attorneys to secure the best “second life” for survivors. His many patients marveled at his uniquely compassionate approach: “What doctor gives you his cell number and says call any time?” Lilly’s pioneering career spanned forty years from Brown University’s Butler Psychiatric Hospital in Rhode Island to Nexus Health System and private practice in Houston, Texas. He treated ER and hospital inpatients whose loved ones were in acute quandary, as well as outpatients who’d long given up finding a doctor who knew how to help. Lilly’s memoir is full of heart, not science, and will provide insight to general readers, family, and friends of patients with brain injury, as well as those who treat them.

His narration is unintentionally poignant, often punctuated by wry humor. He generously incorporates the words of his patients and their families in telling their stories. Their gratitude for his care is profound. As one former patient said, “Without Dr. Lilly, I’d be dead or in jail.



A neurologist for over half a century, Ralph B. Lilly, MD had a passion for learning and teaching. A traumatic brain injury in 1980 shifted his focus from general neurology to behavioral neurology, the study of how brain injury affects behavior. After completing a fellowship in neurobehavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, he served as a clinical assistant professor with the Brown University Program in Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island, consulting with psychiatrists looking for possible neurological causes for their patients’ psychiatric symptoms. In Texas, he worked joined what is now Nexus Health Systems and became a clinical assistant professor at The University of Texas in Houston. Lilly focused his life’s work on treating brain-injury survivors and counseling their families, who were victims in their own right. He saw these “healers” as instrumental in guiding the injured loved one to a “new life.” He practiced in Arizona, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, and wherever he was called to help. Before his death in 2021, Lilly lived in Washington, Texas, with his wife, Joyce, three dogs, six cats, and two horses.

Diane F. Kramer retired from the counseling and psychology departments of Austin Community College in 2008 and began writing personal essays, family histories, and fiction. As a volunteer with the Brenham Animal Shelter, she wrote a weekly column on animal welfare for The Brenham Banner Press. Her writing has also appeared in Alamo Bay Press anthologies and blogs Peace through Pie and Drash Pit. She currently writes website copy and press releases for Brenham Lifetime Learning and the Read of Washington County. She lives with her husband and their rescue dog and cat in rural Texas.



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