Friday, March 29, 2019

2018 Bloggers' Choice Awards for Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tours

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A Discussion of the UpLit Genre and a Book Review of The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr: A Novel by [Maynard, Frances]

I came across this title in an article I read discussing the genre called "UpLit" (Uplifting Literature), which doesn't have a specific definition, but tends to refer to books that have characters who struggle with complex issues, but ultimately find hope or redemption at the end of the book. These are the kinds of stories that I'm drawn to lately, probably because there is so much that's not hopeful in our world right now. Here are a couple of links to articles from the UK that talk about why this genre is becoming a trend:

The Seven Rules of Elvira Carr by Frances Maynard has similarities to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, and The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves, in that the main character is neuro-atypical. In these stories, the reader experiences the main characters' issues as they navigate through an often confusing world, where figures of speech and jokes make no sense, and change is hard.

Elvira, or Evvie, is an adult woman who lives with her overbearing mother and misses her deceased father, who may have been a spy, or an engineer, and whom her mother disparages on a daily basis for things Evvie cannot understand. When her mother suffers a stroke or "Her Lost Capacity," Evvie has to figure out the world on her own for the first time with the help of a neighbor and others characters who gradually fill her life with something like joy. The title comes from 7 Rules that Elvira writes down to help her figure life out. 

There are some mysteries about her father that Evvie tries to unravel, and the reader will probably figure out some of them before the main character does. However, reading about this unique young woman as she attempts to understand her world was enlightening to me as a reader. The author states in her notes that she has experience working with people on the Autism spectrum, and this is apparent in her care and insight as she writes. The book is maybe a bit longer than needed, but I was satisfied as a reader when I turned the last page, and was left with the feeling of hope that I'm looking for in this type of book.

For other stories that I would classify as UpLit, check out those listed below:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine - Gai
l Honeyman

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey – Gabrielle Zevin
The Music Shop – Rachel Joyce
The Rosie Project – Graeme Simsion
Small Admissions – Amy Poeppel
The Little Paris Bookshop – Nina George
The Recipe Box – Viola Shipman
Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan
The Assistants – Camille Perri
America for Beginners - Leah Franqui
Small Blessings – Martha Woodroof
The Garden of Small Beginnings – Abbi Waxman
The Keeper of Lost Things – Ruth Hogan
Now That You Mention It – Kristan Higgins
The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living – Louise Miller
The Optimists Guide to Letting Go – Amy Reichert
The Story of Arthur Truluv – Elizabeth Berg
The Queen of Hearts – Kimmery Martin
The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – Phaedra Patrick
The Library of Lost and Found - Phaedra Patrick
Windfall – Diksha Basu
The Lido – Libby Page
The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry – Rachel Joyce
Something Like Happy – Eva Woods
The Art of Arranging Flowers – Lynne Branard
Love Walked In – Marissa de los Santos
I Almost Forgot About You – Terry McMillan
Flying at Night – Rebecca L. Brown
Meet Me at the Museum – Anne Youngson
Lost Lake – Sarah Addison Allen
The Book of Polly – Kathy Hepinstall
Unleashing Mr. Darcy - Teri Wilson
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman
The Curiosities by Susan Gloss
Professor Chandra Follows His BlissRajeev Balasubramanyam 
The Overdue Life of Amy Byler – Kelly Harms (coming May 1st from Lake Union)
Rules for Visiting - Jessica Francis Kane (coming May 14th from Penguin Press)

Happy Hopeful Reading!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Fiction Books with Dogs!

If you follow me on Twitter, you know I have a #doggo named Bella, who is a complete mess and entirely loved. I have always had dogs since childhood. But never cats. I know there are those who LOVE cats, but I don't "get" them. However, I completely accept your right to love whatever animal you choose!

Recently I asked some Book People on Twitter to recommend their favorite books that had dogs in in them, and received responses from librarians, authors, and other bibliophiles. It was during #AskALibrarian again, the 1 hour Twitter chat on Thursdays from 12-1 (ET) where you can tweet with the hashtag and get recommendations from real, live librarians (verses fake, dead ones? not sure why I said it that way)!  

Here are some of the titles that were mentioned.

K-9 Defense by Elizabeth Heiter (to be published April 16, 2019)
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
A Dog Named Christmas by Greg Kincaid
A Low Country Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe
Watchers by Dean Koontz
My Dog Tulip by J.R. Ackerly 
Stay by Allie Larkin
The Best Man - Kristan Higgins
The Timber Creek K-9 Series by Margaret Mizushima

In Dog We Trust - Beth Kendrick
Kevin Hearne's Iron Druid Chronicles (Oberon, the Irish Wolfhound)
A Borrowing of Bones - Paula Munier
Chet & Bernie Mysteries by Spencer Quinn
The Scent of Murder by Kylie Logan (coming May 7th)
Dark Alchemy by Laura Bickle (part of the Wildlands series, and the sidekick is a coyote named Sig, not a dog, but it's great just the same)!

Let me know if you have read other books with dogs in them that you love!

Happy #Doggo reading!

Friday, March 15, 2019

Live Wire by Pamela Fagan Hutchins: Review ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour

LIVE WIRE (Maggie, Book One) A What Doesn't Kill You World Romantic Mystery
  Genre: Romantic Mystery
Date of Publication: March 6, 2019
Number of Pages: 270

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A hook-up turned lethal. A spurned, angry cowboy. Can rebel Maggie turn the tables before a killer adds her to the list of lost causes?

Washed-up alt-country rocker-turned-junker Maggie Killian is pulled to Wyoming by an irresistible force . . . former bull rider Hank Sibley, the man who broke her heart fifteen years before. When she unexpectedly meets his Sunday school-teaching girlfriend at a saloon, Maggie seeks liquor-fueled oblivion between the sheets of a younger man’s bed. But after her beloved vintage truck breaks down and leaves her stranded in the Cowboy State, she learns her hook-up died minutes after leaving their rendezvous. Suddenly surrounded by men with questionable motives, Maggie searches for the murderer while fighting the electricity between herself and her old beau, and her new penchant for local whiskey. When the police zero in on Maggie despite a disturbing series of break-ins at her guest cabin, she realizes she’s got no one to rely on but herself. To keep herself happily in bars instead of behind them, she must stop the killer before the cops realize the man she really suspects is a jealous, angry Hank. Live Wire is the first standalone book in a trilogy featuring sharp-tongued protagonist Maggie Killian from the addictive What Doesn’t Kill You romantic mystery series. If you like nerve-racking suspense, electric characters and relationships, and juicy plot twists, then you’ll love USA Today best seller Pamela Fagan Hutchins’ Silver Falchion award-winning series.

"Maggie is irresistible." 
Robert Dugoni, #1 Amazon bestselling
author of My Sister's Grave

This is my first book by Pamela Fagan Hutchins, and I enjoyed getting to experience a new author's writing. Live Wire is a continuation of her "What Doesn't Kill You" series, and though some references are made to previous characters and situations, Live Wire, for the most part, can be read as a stand-alone mystery. 

Maggie is a washed-up musician, turned junk picker who is travelling in Wyoming on her way back to her home state of Texas. Her travels have an ulterior motive, though, as she is sort of stalking a former lover, Hank. When she finds out that he is in a new relationship (even though the last time they were together she told him to take a hike), her jealousy leads to to an unfortunate one-night-stand with someone she picks up in a bar. Imagine her shock when said one-night-stand ends up with a bashed-in skull in the hotel parking lot after the encounter!  

Instead of facing the music, so to speak, and admitting she was with the victim the night of his murder, Maggie hides out on a ranch with a group of quirky characters who were some of my favorites in the book. Maggie investigates the murder on her own, and there will be more than one dead body before she finds out the who and the why of this mystery.

Maggie Killian is a very unique character, one I didn't necessarily like all that much at first, but one I could appreciate as well-drawn and distinct, with so much personality that I talked to her a bit while I was reading the book! Mainly, things like, "that's fairly immature and selfish, Maggie;" but I recognized the very human emotions that she was experiencing, and could relate to her in that aspect. Normally I feel that using profanity as character-development is lazy on an author's part, but the language does seem to fit with the rest of who Maggie Killian is, in all her complexity as a character. But if you don't care for f-bombs, just be warned there are a number of them in this novel.

The title "Live Wire" is an appropriate moniker for the main character - dangerous to be around, and better to be avoided at all costs. Maggie wants what she wants, but recognizes that she often leaves disaster in her wake.  She says near the end of the book: "I am a dangerous person. I hurt everyone;" but ultimately she makes a sacrificial decision that goes against her normal nature. I find myself wanting to know what will happen next in her life.

The pace of the narrative is smooth and there is a welcome lack of editing issues to deal with, which is always a pleasure in a reading experience. I can see recommending this book to someone who who enjoys unique characters and realistic dialogue with their mysteries. There are also two more books in the "Maggie" series coming, so readers will be able to see what she is up to next. Look for Sick Puppy coming next month.

Pamela Fagan Hutchins is a USA Today best seller. She writes award-winning romantic mysteries from deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and way up in the frozen north of Snowheresville, Wyoming. She is passionate about long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs and riding her gigantic horses.
If you'd like Pamela to speak to your book club, women's club, class, or writers' group, by Skype or in person, shoot her an e-mail. She's very likely to say yes. Connect with Pamela on the web.

Praise for Pamela Fagan Hutchins

2018 USA Today Best Seller

2017 WINNER Silver Falchion Award, Best Mystery

2016 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2015 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Cross Genre Fiction
2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarter-finalist, Romance
2013 USA Best Book Award Finalist, Business: Publishing
2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest
2012 WINNER USA Best Book Award, Parenting: Divorce
2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Novel Contest, Mainstream
2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Manuscript Contest, Romance
FIRST PRIZE Signed paperback of Live Wire + eBook of Buckle Bunny + $5 Amazon Gift Card SECOND PRIZE Signed paperback of Live Wire + eBook of Buckle Bunny  THIRD PRIZE Signed paperback of Live Wire PLUS, ALL WINNERS Audio downloads of Fighting for Anna and Searching for Dime Box
March 6-16, 2019

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Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Fatality in F by Alexia Gordon ~ Lone Star Literary Book Blog Tour Series Spotlight

A Gethsemane Brown Mystery, Volume 4 
Alexia Gordon
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Henery Press
Date of Publication: February 26, 2019
Number of Pages: 234

Scroll down for the giveaway!

Fresh from solving her third mystery—and saving Dunmullach's firstborn males from a vengeful ghost—Gethsemane Brown's ready to relax and enjoy her summer. Her plans include nothing more dangerous than performing in the opening ceremony of the annual rose and garden show and cheering on Frankie Grennan, who's entered his hybrid rose into the competition.
But when a mysterious stalker starts leaving Frankie floral bouquets as coded messages, Gethsemane fears a copy-cat may be planning to recreate the still-unsolved murders of the infamous Flower Shop Killer. Then Frankie's main competitor in the rose show—and the reason his marriage failed—turns up dead in Frankie's rose garden. Frankie takes first prize in the category "prime suspect.”
So much for a relaxing summer. 
As bodies start dropping like rose petals, Gethsemane must judge the other suspects and find the real killer. Or rose bushes won't be the only things dead-headed in Dunmullach.


Book 1, Murder in G Major
Winner of the 2017 Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel
2016 Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel
Suspense magazine "Best of 2016" selection in Debut Novel category

Book 2, Death in D Minor
Runner-Up, 2017 Lone Star Bloggers' Choice Awards, Best Mystery

Book 3, Killing in C Sharp
Starred review, Publisher's Weekly, January 29, 2018


With few other options, African-American classical musician Gethsemane Brown accepts a less-than-ideal position turning a group of rowdy schoolboys into an award-winning orchestra. Stranded without luggage or money in the Irish countryside, she figures any job is better than none. The perk? Housesitting a lovely cliffside cottage. The catch? The ghost of the cottage’s murdered owner haunts the place. Falsely accused of killing his wife (and himself), he begs Gethsemane to clear his name so he can rest in peace.  

Gethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord's about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law is visiting. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with the investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for her help. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song? Gethsemane’s reluctant investigation provokes a dormant killer and she soon finds herself in grave danger. As Gethsemane races to prevent a deadly encore, will she uncover the truth or star in her own farewell performance?

She saved Carraigfaire—can she save her friends?
Gethsemane Brown fought off an attack by a sleazy hotel developer who wanted to turn her Irish cottage into a tourist trap. Now she must face a vengeful ghost determined to exact revenge for her murder centuries ago. The ghost's wrath spares no one—not Gethsemane’s students, Inspector Niall O’Reilly, fellow teacher Frankie Grennan, or a group of ghost hunters descended on Dunmullach to capture proof ghosts exist. Proof Gethsemane has to quash to keep Eamon, her resident ghost and friend, from becoming an internet sensation.

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A writer since childhood, Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in North Chicago, IL. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories.
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One winner receives a signed copy of Fatality in F and  a $30 Gift Card to David Austin Roses
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