Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Texas is Chili Country- Review

A book about food? Sold. A book about chili? TAKE MY METAPHORICAL MONEY! No seriously, I love chili. I'll eat just about every kind- except hot. I'm not a fan of the super spicy. I make a mean chicken taco chili in the crockpot, which I'm sure would be a cardinal sin if I mentioned it around chili connoiseurs and would shunned to the dephts of chili hell.

"First , there is a need to establish an important distinction: chiles are the peppers; chili is the dish we eat." Thus begins Alter's narrative about Texans' favorite food. The writing is well-researched and informative, taking you from the origins of chili to how it became the official meal of the great state of Texas. It passes through its history with ease, and doesn't dwell when it shouldn't. Marked with photographs relevant to the book, it helps the reader understand the scale of importance that chili has had throughout history and today.

Alter talks about a store called Pendery's World of Chiles and Spices in Fort Worth; a haven for fanatics. There are spices galore, but they all aren't just for chili. There's jalapeno salt, bags of lemongrass, and different varieties of peppercorn. There is also a large selection of books. But I'm not plugging that last part for the book lover in me. Okay. Maybe I am. MORE BOOKS ABOUT FOOD, PLEASE!

Chili cook-offs are a way of life in Texas. They're up there with BBQ cook-offs. Apparently, people take their cook-offs so seriously, that there are three factions: the Tolbert-Fowler Original Chili Championship, CASI (Chili Appreciation Society International), and ICS (International Chili Society) . CASI and ICS are more national, and nowhere close to being Texas-centric.

There is an entire chapter devoted to recipes, which include Lady Bird Johnson's famous Pedernales Chili. I fully intend on trying as many as possible. I remember hearing about Lady Bird's chili while I was on the tour of the LBJ ranch, and I always wondered how she made her chili.

While a short, quick read, Alter does a great job explaining why and how Texas is in fact, chili country.

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Hard Falls by Elizabeth Garcia



Elizabeth A Garcia

Genre: Mystery
Author: Elizabeth A. Garcia
Publisher: Mountain Press
Release Date: October 15, 2015
#of pages: 378

It's March in Terlingua and the weather is playing games—icy one day and warmish a few days later. But the weather is not the problem.

The trouble begins with a Photoshopped picture of Deputy Ricos and Sheriff Ben that makes an innocent encounter look like something it's not. Someone is making a problem where none exists. Why?

Mix in the brutal murder of quiet man "everyone likes," a young, green-eyed deputy trainee, a wealthy, mysterious newcomer to Alpine, a prostitute from Mexico, and a local ranch where it appears something "wrong" is happening. Then stir in a cast of characters you will swear you know, hillsides purplish with bluebonnets, and the never-changing/always changing mountains of South Brewster County.

Award-winning author Elizabeth A. Garcia has lived for more than thirty years in the Big Bend country of far west Texas. She has hiked, rafted, explored, and earned a living in this wild desert-mountain land near the Rio Grande, on the border of the United States and Mexico.

It was experiencing the deep canyons, creosote-covered bajadas, and stark, jagged mountains, and the wide-open spaces and dark, starry nights that eventually brought her to writing.

She tells her fans, "I have loved to write since I was a child. As I grew up I never made much time for it.  I was busy raising a family and running a company.  Once I started writing I realized how many stories have been stockpiled in my brain.  I'm getting them out as fast as I can."

Her first novel, "One Bloody Shirt at a Time," won "Best Crime Novel of the Year" from the Texas Association of Authors for 2013. It was her first novel, but not her first written story. For several years Ms. Garcia’s short stories were published by the Big Bend Gazette.

In addition to novels and other stories, Ms. Garcia writes a blog on this site.  In the past she has shared her blog with the Alpine Avalanche and later with the Daily Planet. She loves to describe and write about west Texas and continues to live there.

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P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!!!! North Beach by Miles Arceneaux




It’s 1962 on the Texas Gulf Coast, and 15-year-old Charlie Sweetwater and his brother, Johnny, are happily oblivious to the world’s problems. Charlie’s main concerns are qualifying for an upcoming Golden Gloves boxing tournament, ducking a local bully and, with any luck, stealing a kiss from Carmen Delfín, the prettiest girl he’s ever laid eyes on.

Charlie’s last innocent summer ends abruptly when his boxing coach is murdered and his friend, a black Cuban boxer named Jesse Martel, is accused of the crime.

Their problems are compounded when Jesse becomes a political pawn in a high-stakes contest between Cuba and the CIA—a contest that intensifies when the Cuban Missile Crises begins, and the world’s two superpowers come within an eye blink of mutual destruction.

Through it all, Charlie and his brother are convinced that Jesse is innocent, and they are determined to find the real murderer—a remorseless killer who is stalking more victims—and clear Jesse’s name before time runs out. Suddenly the Sweetwater boys find themselves navigating through a world that is much bigger, more complicated, and scarier than they ever imagined.


As we drove over the tall hump of the Harbor Bridge, I gazed down at the North Beach neighborhood below. It looked gloomy and pitiful and dark. . . . Once it had been a popular tourist destination, full of boisterous crowds of vacationers, stevedores, and sailors, along with local well-to-do families. Billboards promoted it as Texas’s own Coney Island, “the Playground of the South.” I had vivid childhood memories of the long fishing pier, the saltwater swimming pool with its high-diving board, and next to it, the Surf Bath House, where you could rinse off in a fresh-water shower after swimming, and then order an ice cream float from the soda fountain. . . . You could see clear to Mustang Island from the top of the Ferris wheel. . . .

But North Beach had changed since then. The carnival and amusement park went broke after the causeway was constructed, and a few years later, when the pivoting Bascule Bridge was replaced by the high-arch Harbor Bridge, people and cars began to hurry past the area as if it were a drunk passed out on the street. You could stare as you went by, but you sure didn’t want to stop. . . . Now only a few greasy spoons, pawn shops, dollar-a-day-flophouses, and a handful of windowless bars remained—bars off the beaten path, bars that people went to when they didn’t want to be seen, or found.


“What, brother man?”

“Do you think Rachel would’ve been crazy enough to duck into one of those North Beach joints?”

He eased his foot off the accelerator, thinking about it, and then zipped over to catch the last North Beach exit before the Nueces Bay Causeway. “It’s worth a shot,” he answered. “And, yeah, I think she’s crazy enough.”

Praise for Miles Arceneaux:
“Miles Arceneaux named among the top five Texas authors of 2014.”
Mystery People, Top Five Texas Authors of 2014, December 23, 2014

Praise for Ransom Island:
“A seamless, atmospheric and sardonic comic thriller.”
The Dallas Morning News, Book review: Four mysteries with Texas ties, December 26, 2014

Praise for La Salle’s Ghost:
“Arceneaux keeps the story moving and the suspense building, working in plenty of
humor along the way.”
Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads, September 7, 2013

Praise for Thin Slice of Life:
“An engaging crime caper. This book hits the mark.”
    — Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2012

Blurbs for Ransom Island:
“Like Carl Hiaasen and John D. MacDonald, Miles Arceneaux sets his dark doings by blue water, and has a ball doing it. He makes me want to run away to the islands—Galveston, Mustang or Padre—and sip a tall, cold glass of gin-and-something while I read his latest tale. RANSOM ISLAND may be his best one yet.”
Sarah Bird, Best Selling Author of Above the East Sea China, September 2014

Blurbs for La Salle’s Ghost:
“The story would make a good film . . . Seamlessly plotted and beautifully told.”
Lubbock Avalanche Journal

Blurbs for Thin Slice of Life:
“Miles Arceneaux has written a classic . . . steeped in salt-air atmosphere that just can’t be faked . . . It’s as if Dashiell Hammett had grown up on the Texas Gulf Coast.
Stephen Harrigan, Best Selling Author of The Gates of the Alamo

“The best suspense novel I’ve read since Cormac What’s-His-Name.
Kinky Friedman, Governor of the Heart of Texas

The author of four funny, fast-paced novels of intrigue set on the Texas Gulf Coast, Miles Arceneaux is a one-of-a-kind writer. Or, to be precise, he is three-of-a-kind. The irreverent persona of “Miles” is the product of three friends, lifelong Texans, and Gulf Coast aficionados.

Brent Douglass’ inspiration for Miles’ tales stems from his family’s deep Texas coastal roots, and the iconoclastic characters he crossed paths with growing up there. James R. Dennis’ intimate knowledge of both sides of the law (he’s one of the good guys, it should be mentioned) and his deep appreciation for Texas Rangers lore helps keep Miles’ protagonists on the side of the angels. As a longtime journalist covering Texas and Texans, John T. Davis has sometimes been accused of writing fiction, but this is the first time he has set out to do it on purpose. Together, Douglass, Dennis and Davis make “Miles Arceneaux” truly more than the sum of his parts.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Finding the Great Western Trail Review

I'm going to be honest here. I can recall very little about the Great Western Trail (GWT). Once I started to read, the names of the trails (Chisholm, Goodnight-Loving, etc) came back to me. I also remember Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove being based on the trails, but I never realized that the character of Gus (played by Robert Duvall in the film version) was based on trail boss Oliver Loving. Other than that, I can honestly say that I keep coming up blank.

There is quite a bit of information to take in while reading about the GWT. In the past there were the people who started it, the people who set up towns throughout the trail, and the trail bosses. In the future/past (the 1900s- the future of the trail and the past of today. Does that make sense? No? Too bad. Moving on!) there are the people trying to change the name (to the Longhorn-Chisholm Trail), the guys who build the landmarkers to show which cities the trails ran through, and the newest generation who are trying to keep the history alive and relevant.

After reading this, I am definitely going to look into more information about the history of the GWT. I'm also most likely going to re-read/watch Lonesome Dove. Since I also enjoy stopping at historical landmarks when I go places (including that one time my mom and I went to look at bluebonnets in Brenham and ended up getting lost trying to find and then finding a Confederate/Union graveyard), so this would be fun and interesting to see where the markers will take me. If you're a history buff, give it a try, because it's well researched, well written, and a solid read.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sex as a Political Condition review

Truth be told, I had no idea what to expect when I started reading this book. Living in Texas and having a basic understanding of the relationship between here and Mexico will greatly benefit the reader. And no, not the Fox news understanding, because we all know that's total crap and bias as all get out. Well, make sure you have an understanding of border towns.

The pace of the book was quite slow, leading to parts where the conversations were too long and making it feel like you were in a Quentin Tarantino movie. However, that's not saying that the dialog was pointless. It makes sense, and it fits where it needs to be. I especially love the banter between Honore and his wife. Years of being married to a complete horn dog (as are pretty much every other male in the book), has made her tongue quick and sharp. The dialogue is a little more vulgar than I personally prefer, but it wasn't shocking. Luckily, I knew just about every word in Spanish that someone would use to swear. If I didn't, Google was there for me!

I will say that I enjoyed Flores's writing style. He is very aware when a conversation should end, how many adjectives should describe a South Texas sunset, or how many word's describe a woman's "maracas." I am interested in reading his first novel, Our house on Hueco. Since Flores has just 2 novels under his belt, I look forward to reading more of his work, as I'm sure there will several!

Disclaimer: I have been generously supplied with materials in turn for a fair and honest review.

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!! It happened at the Book Fest

Welcome to the Lake Morgan Book Festival!

Each year, Mr. Denton McCray and his eclectic team of volunteers hosts the most anticipated, and the most mysterious, book fest in a cozy, lakeside community near the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. Though many accounts have highlighted strange occurrences, readers are drawn to the book fest each year by the hundreds, and authors are thrilled to receive a hand-delivered invitation to participate.

The season is autumn. The day is overcast. There's an electric crackle in the air that foreshadows the arrival of approaching storms. Tops of trees sway under the weight of winds that bear more than the threat of rain. The book fest takes place in an old building that once served as a high school. It has been decades since students roamed the halls ... living students, that is.

The Lake Morgan Book Fest opens at 6 PM and runs until midnight. So, grab a cup of hot tea, and dive in!

Be among the first to devour the story! Both Volumes release on October 31st, but you can pre-order now!

Book Blurbs:

A Weird Thing Happened at the Book Fest

Within these pages, readers will discover just how weird the Lake Morgan Book Fest can get. Tales of time travel, science fiction, paranormal, speculative fiction, urban fantasy, comedy, and even a little romance await discovery!

Authors of This Volume:

Kimberley Montpetit

Tyber North

Belle Whittington

A.L. Kessler

Linda M. Au

H.A. Lamb

A Sexy Thing Happened at the Book Fest

Within these pages, readers will discover just how sexy things can get at the Lake Morgan Book Fest. Tales of romance, paranormal, and erotica await discovery!

This volume is for more mature audiences.

Authors of This Volume:

Alexia Purdy

Dicey Grenor

Mia Bishop

Lizzy Pope

J.L. McCoy

Author Photos and Bios can be found here: Author Photos & Bios

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Meet the Authors and Discover the Story at the Project Website: Project Website

Blog Tour Schedule:

October 15th:

Stormy Nights Reviewing & Bloggin'

Rising Indies United

October 16th:

Bitten by Romance

October 17th:

Home of A.L. Kessler

A Whole World Of Things To Do

October 18th:

Linda M. Au Books

October 19th:

Books & Broomsticks

October 20th:

Book Crazy Gals

October 21st:

I Read Indie

October 22nd:

Friends with Books

NarlyNut's Book Lovers

October 23rd:

Mia Bishop- Author, Artist, Dreamer

The Crazy Booksellers

October 24th:

Missus Gonzo

October 25th:

Book Nerd Ramblings

October 26th:

Hey Y’all Use Butter

October 27th:

All for the Love of the Word

October 28th:

Book Lover’s Hangout Blog

Contagious Reads

October 29th:

Blogging for the Love of Authors

October 30th:

Hall Ways



October 31st:

Platypire Reviews

Tanyas Book Nook

Saturday, October 24, 2015

P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!! Sex as a Political Condition- Carlos Nicolas Flores

Carlos Nicolas Flores

TITLE: Sex as a Political Condition
AUTHOR: Carlos Nicolás Flores
GENRE: Literary Fiction: Political Satire
# of pages: 408

Follow the tour

Oct 18  Texas Book Lover Guest Post or promo
Oct 19  Missus Gonzo promo
Oct 20  The Crazy Booksellers promo
Oct 21  Hall Ways promo
Oct 22  The Librarian Talks Guest Post
Oct 24  Texas Book-aholic promo
Oct 27  My Book Fix Author Q&A
Oct 28  Book Crazy Gals review
Oct 30  Hall Ways review
Oct 31  MissusGonzo review

Sex as a Political Condition: A Border Novel is a raucous, hilarious journey through political dangers that come in all shapes, cup sizes, and sexual identities, a trip into the wild, sometimes outrageous world of the Texas-Mexico border and all geographical and anatomical points south.

Honoré del Castillo runs the family curio shop in the backwater border town of Escandón, Texas, and fears dying in front of his TV like some six-pack José in his barrio. Encouraged by his friend Trotsky, he becomes politically active—smuggling refugees, airlifting guns to Mexican revolutionaries, negotiating with radical Chicana lesbians—but the naked truths he faces are more often naked than true and constantly threaten to unman him. When a convoy loaded with humanitarian aid bound for Nicaragua pulls into Escandón, his journey to becoming a true revolutionary hero begins, first on Escandón’s international bridge and then on the highways of Mexico. But not until both the convoy and Honoré’s mortality and manhood are threatened in Guatemala does he finally confront the complications of his love for his wife and daughter, his political principles, the stench of human fear, and ultimately what it means to be a principled man in a screwed-up world.



A native of El Paso, Carlos Nicolas Flores is a winner of the Chicano/Latino Literary Prize and author of a young adult novel, Our House on Hueco (TTUP, 2006). As a director of the Teatro Chicano de Laredo and a former director of the South Texas Writing Project, he has long been engaged in the promotion of new writers and writing about the Mexican American experience. He teaches English at Laredo Community College in Laredo, Texas.

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P-P-P-PROMOOOOOO!!!!!! Deadlock by DiAnn Mills


Diann Mills

Two murders have rocked the city of Houston. Are they the work of a serial killer, or is a copycat trying to get away with murder?
That is the question facing Special Agent Bethany Sanchez, who is eager for her new assignment in violent crimes but anxious about meeting her new partner. Special Agent Thatcher Graves once arrested her brother, and he has a reputation for being a maverick. Plus, their investigative styles couldn’t be more opposite: he operates on instinct, while she goes by the book.
When hot leads soon fizzle out, their differences threaten to leave them deadlocked. But an attempt on their lives turns up the heat and brings them closer together, and a third victim might yield the clue that will help them zero in on a killer. This could be the case of their careers . . . if they can survive long enough to solve it.
Praise for the FBI: Houston series
“[A] fast-moving, intricately plotted thriller.” Publishers Weekly
“As romantic as it is exciting, Firewall will appeal to fans of Dee Henderson’s romantic suspense stories.” Booklist
“The tension level rises as layers of lies are peeled away in multiple plot twists.” Library Journal, starred review

Read Chapter 1 of DEADLOCK HERE

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 
Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.
DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; the 2015 president of the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love chapter; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, and International Thriller Writers. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

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