Sunday, June 24, 2018

Excerpt, Trailer, and Giveaway! The Captive Boy by Julia Robb

THE CAPTIVE BOY
by
JULIA ROBB
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Date of Publication: December 20, 2015
Number of Pages: 170

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Colonel Mac McKenna's Fourth Cavalry recaptures white captive August Shiltz from the Comanche, only to find August is determined to return to the Indians. McKenna attempts to civilize August to nineteenth century American standards and becomes the boy's foster father. But when August kills another boy in a fight, McKenna rejects him, and August escapes from Fort Richards (Texas). When war with the Comanche breaks out, McKenna discovers August is a war leader – and his greatest enemy.

PRAISE FOR THE CAPTIVE BOY:
"THE CAPTIVE BOY by Julia Robb is a story told in a unique way – through journal entries by several different characters, and a novel within the novel. Robb is masterful in her depiction of each character, bringing to life an intriguing tale of the Old West."
-- Writer's Digest competition judge

"It will capture you and keep you engaged from the beginning all the way through the end and also give you insights into the difficulties faced by those who fought on both sides of the Indian Wars in Texas after the Civil War. Buy this book. You will not be disappointed."
-- Steve Mathisen

"Ms. Robb's research is evident on every page. Without becoming bogged down in detail, she employs just enough of it to paint an accurate picture of a dangerous and unforgiving time."
-- Samuel L. Robinson

CLICK TO PURCHASE
      




Excerpt from The Captive Boy
By Julia Robb

    I was sitting by Col. Theodore (Mac) McKenna’s desk when Privates Wilson and Smith dragged the kid through the door.
    They wrestled him to a chair and held him down, trying to tie him up while he fought them, their hands slipping on his greased-up skin.
    The kid wasn’t wearing clothes to speak of, just a breechclout barely covering his privates and deerskin leggings over his tattered moccasins.
    Wood smoke, hot sweat and buffalo robe–which smells like mangy dog–radiated off the boy like heat off a campfire.
    Breathing was difficult, even with the window open. You usually smelled that particular combination of foul odors when parleying in some benighted Comanche lodge.
    Finally, Major Sam Brennan and Sergeant-Major Pruitt helped, and the four of them managed to grab the boy by the shoulders and hold him down in the chair.
    Even then, the kid thought his name was Eka Papi Tuinupu, or red-headed boy; but he was really August Shiltz, son of kraut-eating immigrants who were farming near Fredericksburg when they were murdered and their son taken.
    A neighbor (if you can call someone who lives fifteen miles away a neighbor) took some food to the family, as the Shiltz’s were hard-luck people, and found everyone except August lying in front of the smoking cabin.
    Their naked bodies were white in the sun, scalped, mutilated, the woman and girls raped–which was what the savages always did.
    I never understood how the army spotted August during the raid on the Comanche village, as it was easy to mistake him for a Quahadi (what this band of Comanches call themselves, antelope people).
    Sun had darkened his skin and his red braids were black with dirt and grease.
    Only a close look revealed the Teutonic face; his long nose and long jaws below sharp cheekbones, the thin lips and narrow, defiant blue eyes.
    Also, at sixteen, he was already taller and heavier than most fully-grown Comanche warriors.
    On horseback, the Comanches were magnificent, but standing on level ground with the rest of us they usually failed to exceed five feet six inches tall, much like jockeys one sees at Saratoga, and their bowed legs made them appear even shorter.
    I’ve been to the university at Heidelberg and seen students dueling–their facial scars are marks of honor and proof of their dubious manhood–and August looked just like them; minus the scars.
    As soon as the men dragged August into Mac’s office, I snatched my sketching pencils from my pocket and went to work.
    I still have that sketch, which came in handy a few years later when I wrote about the war: August, perching on the chair like a bound hawk, his eyes slit in rage and fear.
    Colonel McKenna watched the boy, his hands folded on his desk, light from the window shining on his blue cavalry uniform, glinting off the silver eagles sitting on his shoulders.
    Army command sent McKenna to Fort Richards eight months previously to command the Fourth Cavalry. He fought in the War of the Rebellion and was a decorated war veteran, wounded six times and brevetted seven times on the field, climbing from second lieutenant to colonel to brevet major general: Not even George Custer was promoted that rapidly.
    Mac was a handsome man. He had long, thin jaws, a full, well-curved mouth and a square chin.
    Sometimes Mac’s hands shook, like he vibrated inside, though he carried himself like an iron rod on parade. He had a pleasant tenor voice, but it was controlled, as if his feelings were in the guardhouse and he had thrown the key away.
    His men were in terror of him, and for excellent reasons.
    “Are you August Shiltz?” Mac asked.
    No reaction.
    Mac said to Ben Washington, the black Seminole scout standing by his desk, “Tell August if he stops struggling he will not be restrained.”
    You would never mistake Ben for a soldier, or for a regular Seminole, for that matter. The Black-Seminoles were descended from runaway slaves who took refuge with the Seminoles in Florida and sometimes intermarried.
    Ben was typical of that ilk. Kinky hair fell to his shoulders, but his skin was lighter than his slave ancestors. And he had slim lips and Indian cheekbones perching under his eyes like iron bars.
    Mac sat with his hands clasped on his desk, staring at the kid.
    That was another thing about Mac, he didn’t exude warmth or empathy. Cross him in any way and you would live to regret it.
    “You have been identified as August Shiltz, taken from your father’s farm when you were nine years old,” Mac said, waiting while Ben translated.
    August looked coiled to pounce.
    “The raiders killed your parents and your sisters. Do you have other family here in Texas?”
    Silence.
    “How much English do you remember?”
    Silence.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER!





Julia grew up on the lower Great Plains of Texas, eventually became a reporter, and lived in every corner of the Lone Star State, from the Rio Grande to the East Texas swamps. She couldn’t shake images and experiences and began writing them down.
A priest once disappeared on the Mexican border and that inspired parts of Saint of the Burning Heart. She discovered a hypnotic seducer, who she turned into Ray Cortez, the bad guy in Del Norte. Reading about child Comanche captives and their fates made her want to write about a cavalry colonel who attempts to heal a rescued boy, and that turned into The Captive Boy. Finally, what happens to a man who is in love with another man, in a time and place where the only answer is death? That became Scalp Mountain.

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JUNE 19-28, 2018
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
6/19/18
Book Trailer
6/19/18
BONUS POST
6/20/18
Review
6/21/18
Author Interview
6/22/18
Guest Post
6/23/18
Review
6/24/18
Excerpt 1
6/25/18
Excerpt 2
6/26/18
Review
6/27/18
Top 8 List
6/28/18
Review
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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dear Committee Members ~ Julie Schumacher


Schumacher, Julie. 2014. Dear Committee Members. New York, NY: Doubleday, a division of Penguin Random House. ISBN 978-0385538138. $22.95

Every month Librarians in my library, known also as “Selectors,” receive a HOT list from our vendors (Brodart and Baker & Taylor) containing a list of the books publishing three months hence that various metrics and research indicate will be popular and “musts” for the library to acquire.  I select books for technology, self-help, art/crafts/decorating and Science Fiction and Fantasy.  But I always peek at the mystery and fiction books coming out because I want to see what’s buzzing and want to put them on hold as soon as we order them.  Not everyone knows this, but libraries usually order books 3 months in advance, so you can put your favorites on hold and get to the head of the line for the next big blockbuster!

This month a fiction title caught my eye that will be published in August: The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher, a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota. Based on the description, the book is a sequel to Dear Committee Members which our library didn’t own.  So I promptly put it on hold at another local library where I have check-out privileges and read it in one sitting!

Written in epistolary form, Dear Committee Members consists almost entirely of Letters of Recommendation written by a beleaguered, curmudgeonly English professor at a fictitious Midwestern university. Beginning at the first part of the academic term, it follows a year in the life of Jason Fitger as he tries, unsuccessfully, to promote the work of one of his graduate students who is writing a “promising” novel, and includes Letters of Recommendation for other students he barely knows (or likes)!  Within the letters Jay inserts extremely sardonic, passive-aggressive and downright hilarious commentary about all sorts of things going on in the English department where he works.

Sparing none of his colleagues or ex-wives or girlfriends, we learn that Jay had one successful novel published as the result of attending a writing seminar some 20 years previously and used personal details of his own life in the fictional novel which destroyed a number of personal relationships. Other written communications in this short novel reveal his attempts to repair some of those relationships.

Dear Committee Members is an extremely well-written literary novel that puts the "pissed" in epistolary, and it has many laugh-out-loud moments. It is full of academic shenanigans and bitter back-stabbing, but also contains themes of aging, the fear of failure, perseverance, and is not necessarily a happily-ever-after tale.  Still, I loved it so much.

The next novel, The Shakespeare Requirement, apparently continues the life of Jason Fitzger, now Chair of the English Department, but is written in narrative, rather than epistolary form, and I can't wait to read it!

The Shakespeare Requirement: A Novel by [Schumacher, Julie]


Happy Reading!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Widow's Watcher ~ Lone Star Book Blog Tours ~ Promo, Book Trailer & Giveaway!

THE WIDOW'S WATCHER
by
ELIZA MAXWELL

Genre: Literary Fiction Publisher: Lake Union Press
Date of Publication: March 29, 2018
Number of Pages: 286

  Scroll down for the giveaway!




From Eliza Maxwell, the bestselling author of The Unremembered Girl, comes a gripping novel about the mysteries that haunt us and the twists of fate that can unravel them…
Living in the shadow of a decades-old crime that stole his children from him, reclusive Lars Jorgensen is an unlikely savior. But when a stranger walks onto the ice of a frozen Minnesota lake, her intentions are brutally clear, and the old man isn’t about to let her follow through.
Jenna Shaw didn’t ask for Lars’s help, nor does she want it. After he pulls her from the brink, however, Jenna finds her desire to give up challenged by their unlikely friendship. In Jenna, Lars recognizes his last chance for redemption. And in her quest to solve the mysteries of Lars’s past and bring him closure, Jenna may find the way out of her own darkness. 
But the truth that waits threatens to shatter it all. When secrets are surrendered and lies are laid bare, Jenna and Lars may find that accepting the past isn’t their greatest challenge. Can they afford the heartbreaking price of forgiveness?
PRAISE FOR THE WIDOW'S WATCHER:

"There was a moment I had to tell myself that this is just a book..."
- Goodreads reviewer

"A well-paced story of healing, forgiveness and tragedy, with enough unexpected twists to keep readers guessing.”
-- Amber Cowie, author of Rapid Falls

CLICK TO PURCHASE


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Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever-patient husband and two kids. She's an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict. She loves nothing more than to hear from readers.

Twitter ║ Facebook   ║ Instagram Website 
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MAY 22-31, 2018
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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
5/22/18
Book Trailer
5/22/18
Review
5/23/18
Guest Post
5/24/18
Review
5/24/18
Notable Quotable
5/25/18
Review
5/25/18
Author Interview
5/26/18
Review
5/26/18
Notable Quotable
5/27/18
Deleted Scene
5/28/18
Review
5/28/18
Excerpt
5/29/18
Top Five List
5/30/18
Review
5/31/18
BONUS Review

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

#ewgc: The Death of Mrs. Westaway ~ Ruth Ware

!
Ware, Ruth. 2018. The Death of Mrs. Westaway. New York, NY: Gallery/Scout Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.  ISBN 978-1501156212. $26.99 USD.


One of the highlights of my month is participating in a Twitter Chat called #ewgc (Early Word Galley Chat). Librarians across the nation, and Publishers, as well, get together for an hour and tweet about books that are being published in the next few months.  We can only talk about pre-pub books.  If you are in the book industry (Librarian, Bookseller, etc.) you may be fortunate to have an opportunity to download electronic/digital galleys (advanced reader copies) of books from NetGalley or Edelweiss, once you build a profile and start reviewing books on social media or a blog.  You can request to read a certain title, and the publisher will approve or decline your request.  So far, I've read and reviewed over 100 titles, combined, on the two sites.  The gathering for #ewgc is a fun way to network with other librarians, see what books are buzzing, and then fill your e-reader with more galleys than you can possibly read! One such title I heard about, then read, was The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware.


I have read this author's other novels (In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10 and The Lying Game), and now think this one is my favorite so far. I was able to figure out "who done it" in the others, but not this one. The narrative was laid out so well that I really didn't see it coming. Excellent!

Harriet "Hal" Westaway is barely making ends meet reading Tarot Cards and telling fortunes to tourists and locals in a sea-side town, having lost her mother a few years before and gotten into debt from a loan shark. When she receives a letter from an attorney in Cornwall informing her that she may be entitled to an inheritance from an unknown relative, it seems like an answer to a prayer.

Unfortunately, Hal realizes rather quickly that she's not who the family thinks she is - the child of a woman who went missing years before. Shutting down her moral compass, which is screaming at her that it's wrong, she decides to go to the funeral; maybe she can get a few hundred dollars from these "relatives" to keep her bones and teeth intact from the leg breaker the money lender has sent after her.  Hal's ability to cold-read people and situations, which has worked so well in her life and work, should give her a chance to feel out the family.

Upon arriving at the rather Gothic-like mansion, and meeting her three "Uncles," Hal starts to feel even more guilty for her deception. But there are secrets in that house: secrets being kept by a number of people, secrets that were kept from her, too.

The author does an amazing job of creating a sense of menace and dread that keeps the reader turning the pages. Entries from a diary written years before are interspersed with the present-day narrative revealing some clues, but not all of them. This was a highly entertaining read, with a likable main character, for once, even though she makes some questionable decisions. My only criticism, and it's a small one, is that the author spends a little too much time describing Hal's nervous stomach: it clenches, rumbles, rolls, turns over, drops away, et cetera, et cetera....Just an editing issue, in my opinion. It didn't really take away from the enjoyment of the book. I can certainly recommend this new title to my psychological suspense customers knowing they will enjoy it.

Happy Reading!