Book Review and Blog Tour: The Italian Island by Daniela Sacerdoti

Book Description:

My darling girl, don’t make the same mistakes as I did. Now that my life is coming to an end, take your grandmother’s bracelet, unlock the secret of our family history, and discover who you are…

As the hazy sun sets on golden sand, twenty-year-old Annie arrives on the stunning Sicilian island of Galatea, her father’s final wish playing heavy on her heart: she must solve the mystery of her grandmother who disappeared during World War Two. Her only clues are the delicate gold band around her wrist and directions to Villa Onda – House of the Waves – where her grandmother once lived.

As she climbs the winding road up to the cliffside villa, Annie’s path collides with handsome local fisherman, Salvo. His sea-blue eyes sparkle with recognition at her bracelet, and Annie can’t tell if it’s his warm touch or the sun-kissed villa’s vine-covered splendour that takes her breath away. Swept into the warm arms of Salvo’s family, it’s not long before she finds herself dancing the night away in the cobbled piazza and finally beginning to heal.

But one afternoon she finds an antique gramophone hidden beneath a dusty sheet in her grandmother’s bedroom. Setting the needle, she unlocks a long-buried secret… And, through Salvo’s mother, starts to unravel the truth about the bracelet and her grandmother’s heart-shattering wartime sacrifice.

With Salvo’s first kiss lingering on her lips, Annie knows she must dig deeper into the scars that haunt this beautiful island. But can her fragile new-found love with Salvo survive uncovering the truth? Will she ever be able to move on with her life until she does?

An absolutely heart-wrenching page-turner about how the catastrophic consequences of war can echo through generations, and the power that true love has to save us all. From the author of million-copy bestseller, Watch Over Me, and Amazon Number 1. bestseller, The Italian Villa, this is the perfect one-sitting read for anyone who adores Fiona Valpy, Victoria Hislop, or The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.

My review:

It was Annie’s father’s last wish that she discover her heritage, and a small scrap of paper directs her to go to Galatea, so she sets out to the Italian island. Does she speak Italian? Not really. Does she have any idea what to expect? Not really. But she knows she may find out more there about her grandmother Mira, who disappeared after World War II.

Annie wears a bracelet that belonged to Mira. Not only is it a physical object connected to Annie’s grandmother, but it also causes Annie to have visions. Mira’s story is told through Annie’s visions, and as Annie learns more about her grandmother, she also learns some unexpected things about herself.

The imagery in the book is wonderful! I can envision the island and its beauty, the creepy hillside cave that Annie and Salvo explore, the fishermen and the water and the cliffs. The writing is lyrical and easy to read, and since the book isn’t terribly long, it just flew by as I was reading. And the sea reads almost as a living being, vital to the events of both past and present.

The story has a little something for everyone. There is suspense and tension as we see Mira’s brother Gabriel bringing nothing good to the island, and as we wait to see if Annie will have the strength to break from her mother’s suffocating negativity. There’s romance – Mira and Lupo in the past, Annie and Salvo in the present. Annie and Salvo are just adorable. Annie’s connection to Mira through the bracelet brings a touch of the paranormal and mystical to the story, as does the special bond shared by the Ayala women (is Annie one of those women? Read and find out).

And it’s a dual timeline story! Y’all know I love those, and this one is nicely done. My only disappointment was that Mira’s story seemed to take up so much of Annie’s timeline. It felt like there was more to Annie than what we saw in between her visions of the past. But still, it was quite a good read, and the beauty of the words made up for me wishing I could have known more about Annie herself.

This is a solid four-star read, and it was nice to have a World War II historical fiction that didn’t focus almost exclusively on the war and the events thereof. That was an unexpected and refreshing twist!

Disclaimer: I received an advance reader copy of the book from NetGalley and Bookouture. All opinions are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

Daniela Sacerdoti is the author of the bestselling Glen Avich series which has sold over one million copies in ebook to date, Sacerdoti’s debut novel Watch Over Me was named the eighth bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015, when she was also ranked as the eleventh top-selling Kindle author. She lives in a small village in the middle of nowhere, with her Scottish husband, two children, a Cocker spaniel and a foundling kitten (who was definitely a witch in a past life).

Posted in ARC Reads, Blog Tours, Bookouture, Historical Fiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Kindred by Alechia Dow


“Utterly swoony…an endearing reminder that true love can change the world”
—J. Elle, New York Times bestselling author of Wings of Ebony

To save a galactic kingdom from revolution, Kindred mind-pairings were created to ensure each and every person would be seen and heard, no matter how rich or poor…

Joy Abara knows her place. A commoner from the lowly planet Hali, she lives a simple life—apart from the notoriety that being Kindred to the nobility’s most infamous playboy brings.

Duke Felix Hamdi has a plan. He will exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future and finally meet his Kindred face-to-face.

Then the royal family is assassinated, putting Felix next in line for the throne…and accused of the murders. Someone will stop at nothing until he’s dead, which means they’ll target Joy, too. Meeting in person for the first time as they steal a spacecraft and flee amid chaos might not be ideal…and neither is crash-landing on the strange backward planet called Earth. But hiding might just be the perfect way to discover the true strength of the Kindred bond and expose a scandal—and a love—that may decide the future of a galaxy.


The premise of this book was intriguing. A society where everyone is mentally paired up with another person at birth, so that no one ever feels like they don’t have a voice. In Joy’s case, had she not been paired with Felix, the heir to the throne, she probably wouldn’t have had much of a voice at all. Poor and Black, she and her mother have to work hard to get by.

Joy and Felix have feelings beyond just Kindred-ship for each other, even though Joy has been given shots once a year for years that gave her the ability to block out her connection to Felix. Joy has resigned herself to fulfilling her obligation to her people, to getting married ( even though it’s going to be to someone she isn’t terribly fond of) and having children. Felix is throwing himself into music, distracting himself with the social scene to try to keep his mind off what he’s been raised to believe he can’t have with Joy. They haven’t even been allowed to meet, much less potentially fall in love like some Kindred pairs do.

Then the royal family is assassinated. Felix finds himself next in line for the throne, but he and Joy are also suspected of being the assassins. They have no choice but to flee, hoping to go to a system that’s friendly, or that at least won’t sound the alarm when they land. But things go awry, and they end up on Earth. In Florida. With a damaged ship. They’ve got to figure out how to blend in, fix the ship, and get back home.

I LOVE Joy. She is a delightful character, the embodiment of her name. She almost always can find the positive in a situation, and even on an alien planet, she finds it pretty easy to connect with people. I also love that she’s fat. While there are characters who would shame her for her size, she finds her worth and value without having to conform to someone else’s norm of beauty. It also helps that Felix adores her just the way she is, and it’s nice to see a romantic relationship where the characters aren’t portrayed as physically perfect.

Parts of the story really had me working to suspend my disbelief. Like the fact that Joy and Felix land on Earth and just happen to encounter, not only a student about their age whose surviving parent goes off and leaves him alone for days at a time, but also a community where there are already aliens there who can help them escape their pursuers. Really? Of all the places on this big planet, they land where there are already aliens. I know, I know, it’s science FICTION. I like the rest of the story well enough to not get hung up too much on this.

The civilization in which Felix and Joy live, and the other alien civilizations we see described, are well constructed. The villain of the story was pretty obvious early on, but another person who might have seemed to be a villain was a bit of a surprise. The teenage characters are written, and read like, teenagers. Overall, this was an enjoyable, clean story in a universe I want to read more about.

Thanks to Netgalley and Inkyard Press for an advance reader copy. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t like.


Alechia Dow is a former pastry chef, teacher, and librarian. When she’s not writing, you can find her having epic dance parties with her little girl, baking, reading, or traveling.


Author website: 




Posted in Blog Tours, Harlequin Blog Tours, NetGalley, Romance, Sci-Fi, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2021 in Review: My Favorite Books of the Year

It’s been a pretty good reading year! My Goodreads challenge says I’ve read 104 of 80 books, so I’ve exceeded my goal. I wanted to hit some of the high points here. So, without further ado and in no particular order, some of my favorites of 2021. (Feel free to read back through the blog to see what else I’ve read this year!)

Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

Vera Kurian’s debut novel is an intriguing take on the thriller. The fact that Chloe, the main character, was a psychopath caught my attention. Usually the protagonist is at least something of a good guy, and you wouldn’t think a psychopath would be. But I found myself liking Chloe and hoping she didn’t end up dead by the end of the book. The action kept me engaged right up to the end, and I didn’t see the twist coming.

Thief of Spring by Katherine Macdonald

Katherine Macdonald was a new author to me this year, and I have decided she writes some of the best fairy tale retellings I’ve found. Thief of Spring is a retelling of the myth of Hades and Persephone, and Macdonald does a masterful job with it. Her characters may not be the ones you thought you knew, and that’s a good thing!

Pudge and Prejudice by A. K. Pittman

This was my first experience with a Jane Austen retelling. It was absolutely a joy to read! Set in small-town Texas, in the ’80s, it brought me back to my teenage years. I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice, so I can’t tell you how close Pudge & Prejudice comes to the original. I can tell you I would enthusiastically recommend it for readers from junior high on up who enjoy a clean romance, a trip back in time, and a wonderfully crafted story.

The Crowns of Croswald by D. E. Night

A young lady with unexpected magical powers, whisked away to a school for magic users. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, just a little, but Ivy Lovely’s story is all her own. This was a wonderful YA fantasy read, and I’m working on the rest of the trilogy with great glee.

Deadly Business by Anita Dickason

Anita Dickason was a new author to me this year, and I am so glad I was introduced to her books! If I hadn’t had to work, I could have read Deadly Business in less than twenty-four hours. It was a humdinger of a book, with butt-kickin’ good guys and detestable bad guys and all the action you could want, with characters that weren’t just caricatures. Dickason is a twenty-two year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, and her experience shows in her writing. Want a book you can’t put down? Read hers.

Hope, Faith & a Corpse by Laura Jensen Walker

Hope, Faith & a Corpse

Laura Jensen Walker was a new author to me this year, and I’m so glad I found her! I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley. It was a charming read, and clearly demonstrates that Christian/clean fiction can be not only inspiring, but fun without being the least bit preachy. I hope Walker has more to come in this series.

Ink and Shadows (Secret, Book, and Scone Society # 4) by Ellery Adams

Ellery Adams is the queen of the mystery with a touch of the mystical. The Secret, Book, and Scone Society has been one of my favorite series since the start, and this, the fourth entry, does not disappoint. Adams writes characters you feel like you’d like to sit down and have dinner with, and crafts mysteries that draw you in. This was a book I was disappointed to finish, because that meant it was over!

Aftershock by Judy Melinek & T. J. Mitchell

The second in Melinek and Mitchell’s Dr. Jessie Teska series, Aftershock is a thrill ride of a police procedural, with a focus on forensics. Forensics is a fascination of mine, so I enjoy the descriptions of activity in the morgue, and the descriptions of court hearings remind of my days as a prosecutor. Jessie Teska is a character I can relate to, differences in career choices notwithstanding, and I love a suspenseful book that doesn’t give away the ending too early.

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

I enjoy good historical fiction, especially when it’s about an event or an era I’m not super familiar with. I knew nothing about the “moonlight schools” in the backwoods of Kentucky, designed to encourage adult literacy in the early twentieth century. This book gave me some insight into them and made me want to know more, both about the schools and about Cora Wilson Stewart, the driving force behind them.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

A well-crafted dual-timeline story about the choices women make and the consequences those choices may have. It was delightfully gothic and mysterious, and ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger that left me wondering what was of this world and what might not be. And while I normally like to have my stories all wrapped up when I turn the last page, with this one, I was okay with imagining what might have been in the future.

Hush Little Girl (Detective Josie Quinn #11) by Lisa Regan

I read several of Lisa Regan’s Josie Quinn books this year. They’re all great. You’d think that at some point, a series might start to falter or miss the mark. Nope. Every one of these books I’ve read has been phenomenal. If you like a good thriller, just grab the first in this series and get to reading.

Under the Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

This isn’t magical realism along the lines of Heather Webber or Sarah Addison Allen, but Valerie Fraser Luesse weaves her own kind of magic spell. This book is set in a fictional place in my home state of Louisiana, and while the setting may be fictional, the characters and events and attitudes were written very realistically. It’s a compelling picture of small-town south Louisiana, its culture, and its people. (Bonus that the author is a Baylor grad! Sic ’em Bears!)

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The 2020 Lone Star Book Blog Tours Bloggers’ Choice Awards!

It is my pleasure to share the 2020 Lone Star Book Blog Tours Bloggers’ Choice Awards! There were a lot of great books on tour in 2020. If you want to see all that LSBBT has had to offer, stop by Lone Star Literary Life to find out.





Because it’s better late than never!

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ 











(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)

These eleven of the sixty-five titles reviewed by Lone Star Lit’s Blogger Team in 2020 were awarded a perfect five stars by every reviewer on tour.





Rio Ruidoso by Preston Lewis, Blue Skies by Anne Bustard, Execution in E by Alexia Gordon, Destiny’s Way by Ben English, Full Circle by Pamela Lombardo, Gates of Mars by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays, *Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel, The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox, A Dog’s Day: I Am Jax by Catherine Stier, The Diary of Asser Levy by Daniela Weil, *The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese

* Most tours include five to seven reviews; Nacho’s Nachos had eight and The Kissing Tree had ten.




 DiAnn Mills  

WINNER: Tui Snider

RUNNERS-UP: TIE: Linda Broday & Marlene Bell


Stephanie Raffelock, DiAnn Mills, Preston Lewis



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)




Thank You, Garden by Liz Scanlon

Yeah, But I Didn’t by Ann Swann


For Spacious Skies by Nancy Churnin

Enemies of Doves by Shanessa Gluhm

HONORABLE MENTION: Gates of Mars by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays; The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell




WINNER: The Gethsamane Brown Mysteries series by Alexia Gordon

RUNNER-UP:  A Dog’s Day series by Catherine Stier


Conquest of the Veil series by Michael Scott Clifton; Sulfer Gap series by Dana Glossbrenner; The Sisters, Texas series by Becki Willis; The Annalisse Series by Marlene M. Bell; American Wonders Collection by Regina Scott; The H.H. Lomax Western series by Preston Lewis; The Talia Inger series by James R. Hannibal



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: 6 Feet Under Texas by Tui Snider

RUNNER-UP: Gates of Mars by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

HONORABLE MENTION: Airborne by DiAnn MillsStorms of Malhado by Maria Elena Sandovici; The First Emma by Camille DiMaio



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: 6 Feet Under Texas by Tui Snider


A Delightful Little Book on Aging by Stephanie Raffelock

Full Circle by Pamela Lombardo


Postcards from Lonnie by Lisa Johnson; Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel; Landing in My Present by Mary Clark; The Gulag P-Pa Diaries by Preston Lewis



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley


Nacho’s Nachos by Sandra Nickel; Blue Skies by Anne Bustard


Araceli’s Path by Marion Surles; Edison Jones and the Anti-Grav Elevator by Michael Scott Clifton; Cleo Can Tie a Bow by Sybrina Durant



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)



The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese


Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas

The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt

HONORABLE MENTION: Once Upon a Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday; The Love Note by Joann Davidson Politano; The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)



The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

Out of the Embers by Amanda Cabot

RUNNER-UP:  A Delightful Little Book on Aging by Stephanie Raffelock

HONORABLE MENTION:  All In by L.K. Simonds; A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer, Road to Hope by Dena Jansen; Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick; Nothing Short of Wondrous by Regina Scott



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)




All Things Left Wild by James Wade

Blue Skies by Anne Bustard


Storms of Malhado by Maria Elena Sandovici

The Diary of Asser Levy by Daniela Weil

HONORABLE MENTION: Destiny’s Way by Ben English; The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo; The First Emma by Camille DiMaio; What Momma Left Behind by Cindy Sproles; Something Worth Doing by Jane Kirkpatrick



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)




The Caretakers by Eliza Maxwell

Execution in E by Alexa Gordon


Collision of Lies by Tom Threadgill

Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett

HONORABLE MENTION: Airborne by DiAnn Mills; Chasing the White Lion by James R. Hannibal; Coded for Murder by Dianne Smithwick-Braden; Enemies of Doves by Shanessa Gluhm; Spent Identity by Marlene M. Bell; Strong from the Heart by Jon Land; The Black Midnight by Kathleen Y’Barbo; A Firm Place to Stand by Lori Altebaumer



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: Execution in E by Alexia Gordon

RUNNER-UP: Finding Esme by Suzanne Crowley

HONORABLE MENTION: Escape from Wheel by Michael Scott Clifton



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: Ain’t Nobody Nobody by Heather Harper Ellett


The Square Root of Texas by Rob Witherspoon

The Gulag P-Pa Diaries by Preston Lewis

HONORABLE MENTION: The Republic of Jack by Jeffrey Kerr; Covey and Jay Jay Get Educated by Shelton Williams; North to Alaska by Preston Lewis



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)




The Outlaw’s Daughter by Margaret Brownley

All Things Left Wild by James Wade


Slanted Light by Teddy Jones

Rio Ruidoso by Preston Lewis

HONORABLE MENTION:  Once Upon a Mail Order Bride by Linda Broday; The Mail Order Bride’s Secret by Linda Broday



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox

RUNNER-UP: All Things Left Wild by James Wade

HONORABLE MENTION: Violence, Joy, Chaos by Jane Fleming; Slanted Light by Teddy Jones; The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt; Low Water Crossing by Dana Glossbrenner; The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse



(click covers to visit the Lone Star Lit Tour Page)


WINNER: 6 Feet Under Texas by Tui Snider

RUNNER-UP: The Square Root of Texas by Rob Witherspoon

HONORABLE MENTION: Storms of Malhado by Maria Elena Sandovici; Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe by Jodi Thomas; The Republic of Jack by Jeffrey Kerr; The Mail Order Bride’s Secret by Linda Broday



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Book Blitz and Cover Reveal: Perfect Payback (Pepperman Mystery #3) by Bill Briscoe


The Pepperman Mystery Series
Genre: Fiction
Categories: Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Expected Publication: February, 2022
Number of Pages: 250 pages 

When Jim and Laura Pepperman find a musty German Olympic jacket and an old journal in their attic, they stumble onto a gripping pre-World War II story of a cousin Jim knows nothing about.

After a career-ending injury forces Hans Pepperman to lose his spot on the 1936 Olympic boxing team, he trades his athletic aspirations for a degree in mechanical engineering and secures his dream job working for the famous Willy Messerschmitt. Tasked to solve the stalling issues of the BF109 fighter plane engine, Hans finds himself smack in the middle of the Abwehr Intelligence Service’s radar. Pro-Germany but anti-Nazi, he reluctantly agrees to help flush out the spy leaking secret information on the BF109 engine to foreign agencies . . . and finds himself a suspect of espionage and murder. Unsure who to trust, he must unravel the tangle of lies he’s caught in before he falls prey to the Nazi agenda slowly and stealthily taking over the country he loves.



Prequel – Pepperman’s Promise

Book One – Perplexity

Book Two – Panic Point

Award-winning author Bill Briscoe grew up in the oil and gas refinery town of Phillips in the Texas Panhandle. As his retirement was on the horizon, he had an idea about a book. That idea became Pepperman’s Promise, the prequel to The Pepperman Mystery Series, leading to Perplexity, Panic Point, and now Perfect Payback, books one, two, and three of the series. Bill and his wife of over fifty years live in West Texas.

Posted in Book Blitz, Cover Reveals, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Mystery, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review and Giveaway: Before the Alamo by Florence Byham Weinberg | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

A Tejana’s Story
Genre: Historical Fiction / Texas History 
Publisher: Maywood House
Date of Publication: September 17, 2021
Number of Pages: 296 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!

Emilia Altamirano, half Otomí Indian, half pure Spanish, is born in 1814, the year after the Battle of the Medina River, where her father fought as an officer in the Mexican Royalist Army. She grows up in Bexar de San Antonio unacknowledged by her father, raised by her Otomí Indian mother, and “adopted” as an unofficial ward by José Antonio Navarro, hero of the Texas fight for independence from Mexico. She learns to read, write, and acts as a page for the Ayuntamiento (City Council). She learns nursing during a cholera epidemic and later tends the wounded on both sides during and after the Battle of the Alamo. She survives, but as a Tejana, Spanish-speaking, and a loyal citizen of Mexico, she faces an uncertain future.

“Yesterday, I finished Before the Alamo, figuratively gasping for breath…Thank you for a joyful experience, so helpful in this time of disillusion and anxiety.” – reader Marti Nodine
I didn’t grow up in Texas, but I learned a little about the Alamo when I was young. The basic things that everyone learns – “Remember the Alamo!”, the deaths of notables such as Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie, and the fact that the Texans lost. I never really gave much thought to the actual historical setting or the events leading up to that battle, though. In her engrossing and clearly well-researched book, Before the Alamo, Florence Byham Weinberg paints a vivid picture of the people who populated Mexican Texas.

Emilia is the focal point of the story. She is born in 1814, in the municipality of Béxar, the result of a short-lived love affair between her mother and a man of Spanish descent. She and her mother work for the father who refuses to acknowledge Emilia, and they are considered lower class. But Emilia learns to read and write, and works her way up to a position of some importance as a clerk for the city council. The story unfolds, following Emilia up to the Battle of the Alamo and its aftermath.

I don’t speak a lot of Spanish, and I appreciated how Weinberg used Spanish terms throughout the book, but also used the English equivalent nearby. This made me feel immersed in the story and the culture without having to stop and check Google Translate for every unfamiliar term.

Weinberg also pulled no punches on how some Anglos treated the Tejanos when they came into Texas. While there were some who were honorable and treated the Tejanos with dignity (as exemplified by the character of Charles McCray, a doctor who befriended Emilia when she was working to help others during a cholera outbreak), there were some who were rude and downright ugly. Weinberg didn’t try to pretty up those interactions to make the white folks all look better. In the modern era where racism is a topic that’s front and center, it highlights that the arrival of the Anglo wasn’t necessarily something welcomed by all Tejanos, and for good reason.

The story is compelling and the characters are well developed. It’s got action, tension, romance, something for almost every reader. And this was another of my favorite kinds of books, the kind where the story is both enjoyable and educational. Before the Alamo has inspired me to learn more about Texas history, and I hope you’ll take the opportunity to read it and learn something yourself. It gets five big stars from me.

Florence Byham Weinberg, born in Alamogordo, New Mexico, lived on a ranch as well as a farm and travelled with her military family during World War Two. After earning a Ph.D., she taught for 36 years in three universities. She published four scholarly books. Since retiring, she has written four books in the Pfefferkorn historical mystery series, three additional historical novels and one philosophical fantasy/thriller. She lives in San Antonio, loves cats, dogs, horses, and conversations with great-souled friends.

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Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life, Texas History | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Book Review and Blog Tour: The Women of Pearl Island by Polly Crosby


Author: Polly Crosby

ISBN: 9780778311140

Publication Date: December 7, 2021

Publisher: Park Row Books

Buy Links:
Barnes & Noble

Book Summary:

With the same atmosphere and imagination of THE BOOK OF HIDDEN WONDERS, Polly Crosby’s new novel, THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND, is set on a lush, secluded island where family secrets bring together an unlikely friendship.

On a secluded island off the British coast, an elderly woman named Marianne collects butterflies and memories from her past. No longer able to catch butterflies herself, she enlists the help of a young woman named Tartelin who has a peculiar birthmark on her cheek. Tartelin’s mother has recently passed, leaving her unmoored and eager for new beginnings on the island.

Marianne has spent most of her life on the island, her family having owned it for generations. She begins to tell her young assistant her family’s story – from the prosperous days when they harvested pearls and held banquets, to the harder times and her father’s desperate money-making schemes. But during WWII, the British government commandeered the island for nuclear testing and they were all forced to leave. Though, secret to everyone, Marianne stayed behind and experienced something she calls “the blast,” an event that changed everything for her. Now, the older woman is obsessed with tracking the changes in butterflies and other creatures on the island to prove what she witnessed so many decades before.

With a mystery spanning decades, this is an emotional and atmospheric story of a young woman coming into her own as she forges an unlikely friendship with her employer, both women grieving their pasts and together, embracing a new future.

My review:

The Women of Pearl Island is almost, but not quite, creepy. Tartelin, grieving the death of her mother, accepts a position as a personal assistant to an elderly woman who lives on the remote island of Dohhalund. The island has been in Marianne Stourbridge’s family for years. Marianne grew up there, with her father profiting from the herring trade, from the pearls farmed from Dohhalund oysters, from the silkworms that Marianne learned to cultivate. But all was not sunshine and roses during Marianne’s childhood.

Marianne has hired Tartelin to be her eyes, ears, and legs on the island as she seeks proof of…something, something that happened during World War II, when all of Marianne’s family was forced by the government to leave the island. She’s very secretive about the events of her life, and Tartelin at first isn’t sure she can handle the position she’s accepted. Marianne expects her to trap butterflies for examination. The island is completely isolated – no cell service, no phone, no electricity. And she will tell Tartelin virtually nothing about what exactly she hopes to prove with her examination of so many creatures.

But as Tartelin explores her surroundings, both Dogger Bank House where she stays with Marianne and the island itself, the more she becomes engaged in it. She slowly learns to appreciate the solitude. She meets a handful of people living on the island, and in some instances this results in more questions, more secrets from the past coming to light. And as Marianne slowly, slowly opens up to Tartelin, Tartelin finds her own kind of healing and restoration.

This story is told in dual timelines, the present day and Marianne’s growing-up years leading up to World War II. I found it easy to follow the two separate storylines. The prose is lush, sometimes bordering on fantastical, and this gives the book almost a dreamlike quality. Sometimes it’s hard to separate reality from imagination. It’s a slow-moving book, but it really pulled me in to Tartelin and Marianne’s stories. I wanted to know where they were both coming from, and what was driving Marianne to stay in a house that could literally crumble into the sea.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller, this isn’t going to be your cup of tea. But if you want a story that builds and that reveals its secrets in time, with characters you may alternately want to hug and shake, The Women of Pearl Island may be for you. I can honestly say it is like no other book I’ve read this year, and it was a literary treat for me.

Author Bio: 

Polly Crosby grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives deep in the Norfolk countryside. THE BOOK OF HIDDEN WONDERS was awarded runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel, and Polly also won Curtis Brown Creative’s Yesterday Scholarship, which enabled her to finish the novel. She currently holds the Annabel Abbs Scholarship at the University of East Anglia, where she is studying part time for an MA in Creative Writing. THE WOMEN OF PEARL ISLAND is her second novel.

Social Links:
Author Website
Twitter: @WriterPolly
Instagram: @ polly_crosby
Facebook: @pollycrosbyauthor  Goodreads

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Reviews, General Fiction, Harlequin Blog Tours, Historical Fiction, NetGalley | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog Tour: The Drowning Girls (Detective Josie Quinn #13) by Lisa Regan

Book: The Drowning Girls
Author: Lisa Regan 
Publication Day: Dec 10th 2021

Buy Links: 

Amazon: Apple:  Kobo: Google:

Publisher: Bookouture

Genre: Crime Thriller

Would I recommend: If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know I think Lisa Regan’s Josie Quinn books are some of the best thrillers out there. If you like a rollercoaster ride of a book, read this one. Read the entire series. Thank me later.

About the Book: 

In the thin glow of moonlight, a mess of auburn curls gleams against the rocks. Hands bound, the girl’s fragile body is limp and still. Seconds later, a wall of raging white water crashes down, swallowing her whole…

A knock on the door late in the evening can only mean trouble for Detective Josie Quinn, but fear chokes her at the news that the one of her own team is missing. No one has seen Denton PD’s beautiful Press Liaison Amber for days. Sweet-natured and totally dedicated to the job, she’d never let her colleagues down. A message scrawled on the frosted windscreen of Amber’s car leads Josie to a nearby dam. But the body they pull from the water is not Amber…

Josie won’t sleep until she finds a name for the innocent girl left to drown, and the meaning of the numbers scribbled in a tattered pink diary found on Amber’s desk. But when the trail leads her to a twisted truth about Amber’s family, Josie wonders if anyone really knew her at all?

Her team crumbling around her, Josie must stay strong and focused to get the job done. But as prime suspects start going missing, and rumors of an argument the night Amber disappeared surface, could one of her own staff be to blame?

Finding Amber alive is Josie’s only chance of knowing the truth and stopping a dangerous killer in their tracks. But as a blizzard closes in, how many more precious lives will be snatched before she can?

An absolutely astounding crime thriller that will keep you up all night and leave you sleeping with the lights on. This gripping rollercoaster ride, perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Robert Dugoni and Rachel Caine, will have you TOTALLY HOOKED!

My review:

Josie Quinn, a detective in the small town of Denton, Pennsylvania, is enjoying some family time over the holidays. The festive gathering is interrupted by a knock at the door – usually not good news at night. Finn Mettner, a fellow detective, is concerned about his girlfriend and Denton’s police force liaison, Amber. He hasn’t heard from her for several days, which is unusual. He’s let his concern lead him to make some poor choices, and now not only are Josie and the rest of the team trying to figure out what happened to Amber, they’ve got to question whether Finn was involved.

Finn convinces Josie and Noah to come with him to Amber’s house, and a clue written in the frost on her car’s windshield leads them to the local dam. When it becomes clear that there’s a person in the water chute of the dam, and that she’s alive, Josie flings herself headfirst into danger to try to save her.

Amber’s family is a mystery until Josie starts digging, and what she finds is unsettling. The childhood diary in Amber’s desk with Josie’s name written on a Post-It note stuck to it, and the strange numbers inside, are a puzzle to be solved. And once it becomes clear that members of Amber’s family, estranged or not, are being targeted as the body count rises, time becomes of the essence. They’ve got to find Amber, if she’s still alive, before it’s too late.

Lisa Regan is a master of the tautly drawn crime thriller, and this, the thirteenth in the series, is no exception. This book grabbed me from the get-go and it was pedal to the metal all the way through. And it’s not all action and shoot ’em up. Josie is still struggling with the death of her grandmother Lisette, and we see her working through that, growing and getting stronger. The character development is one of the things I enjoy most about Ms. Regan’s writing. Her characters are very much three-dimensional, and we get to know more about them as the series progresses.

This was a pretty convoluted plot, too! There were a lot of people involved, and many of them were not what they first appeared to be. From Amber’s parents and aunt to the preacher of the new megachurch in town, everyone had something to hide. I love a book where I don’t see the twist coming, and I really didn’t pick up on it here.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know what I think of Josie Quinn. If you’re new to the blog, welcome! I’ve reviewed several other Josie Quinn books, namely, Breathe Your Last (#10), Hush Little Girl (#11), and Her Deadly Touch (#12). They are all smokin’ good reads. They’re good as stand-alone works, but I recommend you start with the first in the series and read them all. As long as Ms. Regan keeps writing, I will keep reading. Good stuff right here. Five stars, well deserved.

Disclaimer: My thanks to NetGalley and Bookouture for an advance reader copy of the book. All opinions here are mine, and I don’t say nice things about books I don’t actually like.

About the Author:

Lisa Regan is an Amazon bestselling crime novelist. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She is a member of Sisters In Crime, Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.





Posted in ARC Reads, Blog Tours, Bookouture, Crime Fiction, NetGalley, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Notable Quotable and Giveaway – If a Butterfly by Michael Sirois | Lone Star Book Blog Tours

Genre: Mainstream / Literary Fiction
Publisher: Flio Widdix Publishing
Date of Publication: December
, 2021
Scroll down for Giveaway!
Nine Characters + One Butterfly = Chaos Theory. 
The series, If a Butterfly, is a bit like Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon (if Kevin just happened to be a butterfly). A Monarch butterfly, during its epic migration from Canada to Mexico, intersects the paths of a few people, and their lives and the lives of others are altered forever. 
In Chrysalis, the first book in the series, nine different characters embark on a variety of journeys, some of distance, and others while staying right where they are. What do a scientist, a married couple on a vacation, a woman who hears voices no one else hears, a grad student, a quilter, a radio deejay, a teacher, and an astronaut all have in common? A butterfly, of course. All of these characters want what most people want, “to earn a decent living, be respected for the work we do, have a good time, and get along with everybody.” Sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.
In the second book, Emergence, the journeys continue, with a different focus for some of the characters because of what happened in Chrysalis; but the continuation of their stories show how each of our lives can touch another life, and what effect a chance encounter can have on everyone around us. 
Book 1
Book 2

Posted in Blog Tours, Literary Fiction, Lone Star Book Blog Tours, Lone Star Literary Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Short Story Tour & Giveaway: Breakfield & Burkey E-books


#ShortStory Journey Dec 8th to Dec 15th  

#GIVEAWAYS Available

Please leave a comment below for a chance at a free gift!

Gifts available for Day 1 are two ebooks of the featured short story plus one ebook of the newest release Hidden Target. That’s 3 winners.

Author Insights

Our first book of the Enigma Series, The Enigma Factor, introduced an unlikely hero, Jacob Michaels. He was raised in New York City by his mother, Julianne Michaels, and grandmother, Adriana Michaels. Both of these influencers in his life were excellent programmers of their time. Jacob was tutored from the time he started speaking in multiple languages and as he grew they added mathematics, programming skills, and digital security. 

In his youth he focused on education with minimal socializing even when he went on to MIT. Buzz, his best friend, was a rich, spoiled young man. The boys remained close into adulthood. Both young men were closely supervised.

Jacob’s questions regarding his father were deflected by Julianne. Her past and life before New York was never a topic of discussion. Jacob graduated at the top of his class and landed an interesting job as a penetration tester with a company that supported governments and financial institutions. Jacob loved the hunt through the security issues to located root cause issues of hacking. He created some awesome tools to that increased his value to customers.

He faces a rite of passage in this novel that even his mother’s strict education may not keep him safe. Talented people, like Jacob, are targets in the technology arena. This could mean good or bad guys. It brings the question of who to trust, front and center.

During this journey, Jacob crosses paths with Wolfgang. Wolfgang has answers for Jacob and delivers a new piece of the puzzle for this life. This audible sample of the story helps illustrate their relationship.

Our readers asked about Wolfgang. These questions helped us create our first backstory, Remember the Future. This short story explores Wolfgang, his choices, and the results that followed. We hope readers enjoy this historical fiction of family love, options, and survival.

About the Short Story

1960s Europe faces upheaval and change. Youth are rebellious of the old ways while confidently exploring the new possibilities. Who could one trust now that the Iron Curtain descended?

Julianne is part of the European aristocracy that is struggling to adapt to the confines of the Cold War. Society sees traditional norms challenged by most of her generation, who desire personal freedoms. Julianne’s naivety is no longer an asset when compared to knowledge or experience.

Wolfgang and Adriana have sheltered their daughter based on their societal traditions. They find protecting her like walking on a tightrope. They forget she’s no longer a child but a young woman ready to take flight.

Will Julianne succeed in securing true love without compromising her beliefs?

About the Authors

Charles Breakfield and Rox Burkey are co-authors of the award-winning Enigma Series. Their characters demand that their stories are told. The storytelling began with a few heroes, then expanded to those with self-serving motives. We love storytelling and hope readers enjoy learning  more about our shorts. Looking forward to your feedback and reviews of our stories.

Breakfield is a technology expert specifically in security, networking, voice, and anything digital. He enjoys writing, studying World War II his­tory, travel, and cultural exchanges. Charles is also a fan of wine tastings, wine making, Harley riding, cooking extravaganzas, and woodworking.

Burkey is a25+ year applied technology professional who optimizes technology and business investments for global customers. She focuses on optimized customer experiences. Rox loves interviewing authors, writing white papers, reviewing books, and loves creating fiction.

Enjoy the story today

Together they create award-winning stories that resonate with men and women, young and experienced adults, and bring a fresh new view to technology threats of today. Please visit their website, look around, and grab some free stuff

Find Us and Follow Us



LinkedIn:  and

Twitter:       @EnigmaSeries and @1rburkey



Thank you for visiting. Please leave your comment below for a chance to win.

Posted in Blog Tours, Short Stories, Technology, Thriller | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments