From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice…
Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendent of Ransom Canyon's founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O'Grady… or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.
Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand's son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn't imagined.
Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn't plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town's weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car's pedals, isn't prepared for what he encounters.
In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.
Published August 25th 2015
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.28 Stars
I was hesitant with the cover and title of this book expecting an extremely southern story, but this book was a treasure to read. The author didn’t depend on the country setting but let it complement her characters. The book was not written as a western, although it had touches of horse riding and farming mentioned which was a pleasant surprise. This story stood out because I loved how modern it was as well as all that is described below. It didn’t go overboard building sympathy on a teenager’s poverty background, but it showed the optimistic side that he had a plan and was going to college through his own hard work. The stories held wonder and hope but were realistic and relatable, which I loved.
I loved the intermingling of stories into one great, intriguing plot line. The authors’ construction with balancing each individual’s story and keeping them all captivating was outstanding. I was impressed at how easy the stories blended together, which I know takes an extreme talent to not have one story that outshined the others as well as to not have too much going on that you couldn’t keep up with the different angles. It was beautifully written and read like a movie.
I enjoyed how much both the main and background characters developed and was surprised I wasn’t overwhelmed by that many characters. I think it had to do with how spread out the introductions were as you slowly made the connections on how the lives intermixed. Reflecting on the characters I liked that the stories held different generations. It held young, naïve love, young adult abandoned love, middle-aged damaged love, as well as some sparks in the background of flirting old timers. I would give this five out of five stars.
Desire and despise. Two insanely contradicting emotions that the dark haired, well-built, irrefutably handsome musician Riley evokes in simple but attractive, fashion savvy, Austinite Brooke. Initially unequivocally turned-off by the brash but striking Riley she develops a fascination for his seductive charms as Riley reels Brooke into a world of ravenous love she never knew existed. What they create together is oh-so-much more than beautiful music. It's a roller coaster ride of awe-inspiring and heartbreaking emotion, passion, hidden secrets and an ending that will leave you utterly breathless. The way they become eternally bound sets the heart afire when fate unleashes the ultimate betrayal.
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Beth Ann is a wife, mother, blogger and book lover from Texas. Her passion is writing stories that draw a reader into a world where they can become the characters and experience a gamut of emotions. When she's not writing, she love's to be home with my family and two yellow labs. In addition she's a sucker for super sappy romance movies, loves trying out Texas wines, is an avid hot tea drinker and enjoys checking items off of her ever-growing bucket list.
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Frieda Harms was born into a farming family in Indian Territory in 1906. Widowed at thirty and left with three children in the midst of the Great Depression, she worked as a farmer, a railroad cook, a mill worker, and a nurse in four states. She died in 1983.
Sandra Scofield spent most of her childhood with her grandmother Frieda and remained close to her in adulthood. When Frieda died, Sandra received her Bible and boxes of her photographs, letters, and notes. For thirty years, Sandra dipped into that cache.
Sandra always sensed an undercurrent of hard feelings within her grandmother, but it was not until she sifted through Frieda’s belongings that she began to understand how much her life had demanded, and how much she had given. At the same time, questions in Sandra’s own history began to be answered, especially about the tug-of-war between her mother and grandmother. At last, in Mysteries of Love and Grief, Scofield wrestles with the meaning of her grandmother’s saga of labor and loss, trying to balance her need to understand with respect for Frieda’s mystery.
Expected publication: September 15th 2015
This story was repetitive. I wish it would have gone in chronological order because with it jumping around sporadically it ended up explaining the same facts multiple times. As well it sometimes used an entire chapter to copy an excerpt from another of her books, which felt like cheating to plagiarize your own work in a sense to fill space and once again repeat what you've already covered in other books. I was disappointed with how I thought this story was going to play out and how it was really structured.
The cover is misleading. It's not about an old love that lasted through time even though it does mention it with surface detail multiple times throughout the book. It feels like Sandra still wasn't quite ready to write this book because she is struggling as she writes to figure out why her grandmother was so negative. This was a bit depressing of a book with all the hate spewed between family and grudges and prides kept among themselves. I couldn't believe how many times each person in this family got married and divorced. It was hard to follow with it not being in chronological order as well as repeating facts.
This story seemed more focused on Sandra the child, instead of her grandmother because as you read you realize she still doesn't know much about her grandmother. I do enjoy the idea of her receiving this box full of history, but I wish the story was structured differently. I didn't enjoy that she called her grandmother Mommy, her mother, Mama, her aunt rightmama, and so on which just added to the confusion as well as trying to speak from different points of view saying her mom (meaning her actual mom), then speaking for her mother saying her mom (meaning the grandmother). It was hard to keep track. Lastly, the chapter titles were misleading. She would go through the entire chapter recounting the misfortune that happened then throw in the chapter title because it felt like she had to, but really the chapter had nothing to do with the subject topic.
Title: SCHOOLED FOR MURDER
Author: Cindy Muir
Genre: Mystery (cozy)
# of Pages: 200
Pub Date: July 11, 2014
Publisher: Black Rose Writing
Laurel Franks is a dedicated mom, volunteer extraordinaire and active on the PTA Board. She is also, however, a enthusiastic Jimmy Buffet fan and wanna-be Trop Rock singer. Laurel finds out through the local grapevine that the despicable local School Superintendent has been murdered and the sheriff’s office seems to be unusually mum about the investigation.
With her best friend and sidekick Sherry Sharp, Laurel decides to hone her investigative skills and search out suspect possibilities she comes up with in her volunteer and community world. Her husband, obsolete in the thought processes of a modern woman, wants her to devote her time and energy to her volunteer work and family only, but Laurel is spurred on with her investigation.
Laurel and Sherry traverse the Hill Country north of San Antonio, Texas and meet some wacky characters, many of whom seem to have a motive for rubbing out the School Superintendent. Fueled by Trop Rock music and inspired by Jimmy Buffett lyrics, Laurel finally solves the crime, but at the near cost of her own life.
I’m one of those who has always loved music. My earliest performance memory was at age four at church and by age 8, I was studying piano. The choral and solo road continued and I wound up with two music degrees from Baylor University. I’m a former elementary music teacher and directed church children’s choirs for 32 years.
Jimmy Buffett by the early 90s. When I attended my first concert back in 1991, I was hooked. After several years of Buffett concerts, reading his books and learning about him, I finally joined the San Antonio Parrot Head Club. It was through the club that I began to learn about Trop Rock and the singers/ songwriters who make the music.
A couple of years ago, I started writing a column about Parrot Heads and Trop Rock for a now-defunct magazine. And I truly became hooked on meeting and interviewing the musicians. One of my favorite parts of going to MOTM, Pardi Gras, or other Trop Rock music events is to forge new musical relationships. I also began to weave a story about an amateur sleuth who also dreams of being a Trop Rock singer. After years of writing and re-writing, "Schooled For Murder" is my first cozy mystery novel. Black Rose Writing was extremely gracious to take the chance of being the book's publisher.
I have a beautiful daughter, Lauren Bates, who lives in Dallas and is an artist. And I’m newly married to wonderful Don Muir, whom I’ve known for years through the San Antonio Parrot Head Club. Jerry Diaz was gracious to let us be married on the stage erected for the Pardi Gras Street Party and after the ceremony, a second line jazz band paraded us up to the top of the Tropical Isle, where we had cake for whomever joined us.
I’m also caretaker for the “Jimmy Buffett Museum of Port Aransas, TX,” which is my second home. Come see me if you’re ever on that part of the Gulf Coast. We’ll share a cold libation and listen to… what else? Trop Rock!
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Every year people watch in shock as homes are destroyed and communities devastated by natural disasters. As the media arrives, the information that is reported is mainly statistical. The horror of living through and recovering from the experience is rarely told because almost no one has the emotional strength to speak out while the smoke is still in the air or the floodwaters are still receding. The stories of a disaster’s most important effects—which unfold invisibly for months and sometimes years—are never told. That is, until now.
Hail of Fire: A Man and His Family Face Natural Disaster is an intimate account of the third worst wildfire in modern U.S. history, and the most destructive in the history of Texas. It is a memoir about what happened to Randy Fritz, an artist turned politician turned public policy leader, and his family during and after, combining a searing account of the fire as it grew to apocalyptic strength with universal themes of loss, grief, and the rebuilding of one’s life after a calamitous event.
The wildfire itself was traumatic to those who witnessed it and suffered its immediate aftermath. But the most significant impact came in the months and years that followed.
Published June 12th 2015
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.29 Stars
I enjoyed the viewpoint of the book. For me watching the news and seeing disastears happening everyone, I can't relate and to me the news is like a movie. This book though gave me a perspective through eyes of someone who has lived and struggled through a situation I would have changed the channel during. He brought his raw emotions into the story and dragged you into his situation to experience his reality. He gave you more than just the thirty seconds you would see of it on TV and included so much detail of what happens during the storm, how people really react, and the process of the aftermath. He brings you through the choices he had to make and how difficult each scenario was, but still having to humble yourself to choosing one. This story held ups and downs and was realistic, not sugarcoating the journey to rebuild his world. It was inspirational and informative and I have never heard of a similar book. I would highly recommend this story because his fire he had to fight through can be related to many other struggles that others have to go through. I gave this five out of five stars. It was unique and beautifully written.
"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned."
"Holding Fire" contains 10 short stories within the theme of the self-destructiveness of vengeance and hate. The stories were each carefully selected by a team of judges from nearly a thousand entries. The amazing stories in this book are completely exclusive to this book! You won't find them anywhere else.
This book contains stories written by extremely talented up-and-coming writers. When you read this book, you are supporting these authors and helping make their well-deserved dreams come true.
This book is the result of an exciting creative project. The 10 different authors featured in this powerful book are real people eager to have you read their work. The book comes with an invitation to discuss the short stories with the writers.
Not only will you love the page-turning stories, but you will be helping support these talented, deserving independent writers!
Stories by Maggie Stancu, Joy Meehan, Chris Chan, Isobel Sheene, Jessica Phillips, Tayah Reed, John Mallon, J.B. Rice, Kristi Hudecek-Ashwill, and Julieanne Swiatczak.
Published March 13th 2015 by OnlineBookClub.org
When the Introduction started out by telling a realistic example of a woman who threw her computer out the window because it was running slow, I had assumed the following ten short stories would be a little humorous but real-life stories. The first story caught me off guard because of my though process in considering all the short stories to be real life events, so I was interested to see how they convinced someone admitting to a murder. As I continued reading I realized the introduction should have just been deleted because it took away for me from the rest of the stories. I had a four or five way tie between my favorite so overall I enjoyed the book and recommended it to others as well as gave synopsizes to my husband of some of my favorite. I ended up rating this three out of four stars.
The entire book was portrayals of Self-Destruction and Anger, but I wasn’t expecting almost all to involve the same underlying plot of murder. I was interested to see what these authors could come up with as creative alternatives to showcase revenge other than murder. I enjoyed most because they held that epic beginning, detailed middle, and dramatic ending that was full of excitement and captivating. There were a few that I enjoyed less that felt like you missed half the story within the first paragraph, getting slammed with all this backstory that was mostly irrelevant, then ended like a cliffhanger. The following paragraphs are little mini reviews on each individual short story.
Running with Guilt was the perfect opening short-story. It held my interest and led me to jump into the next head first. I loved how much depth it built in such a short time frame then how unexpected the ending was. Endings like this are the ones that make you think because you are not prepared for them and they happen so fast and with no build up you are left at the end with your mouth hanging open.
Dog Eat Dog was a revenge story that I held pity for the character that was revenged against. I’ve dealt with rude coworkers before but it seems like you need to get to know them to possibly understand their viewpoints to see if they really are miserable in their lives or if there is a reason behind their actions. This was my least favorite story. It threw a curveball into the story at the end that just confused the story that I had built up in my head. I didn’t like the construction of this short story that made it too complicated of an ending. There was more effective, simpler ways to continue without the twist at the end.
Death’s Door was entertaining. It was another murder mystery that held a good story line, but it was the construction that would keep this from becoming my favorite. The character relationships I was questioning till the end of the story which distracted me from the plot. The first person to me was a bit sloppy and undefined because it took me a while to realize who the heck was telling the story as it got into the interviews and the narrative thinking to himself and conversing didn’t flow smoothly for me.
Vindictive was my perfect example of what a great short story is. It had a catchy beginning, held the readers interest and ended with a bang (not literally, no spoilers revealed). I enjoyed this read. It was the most realistic out of the few so far and in such a short story it created a relationship between the characters and the reader, which made you relate to what they were feeling and why they were reacting that way.
Burden of a Soldier – The stories time frame caught be off guard after having the themes up to that point remaining similar. They were almost believable present time story lines then a medieval; fantasy based with a little more bloody description was thrown in where I wasn’t ready for it. The switch in story time lines made me uneasy, but the plot slowly gained my interest then fell flat and left me confused at the end. I was excited thinking how they could twist and maybe Romulus who always asked for help with his revenge after and was denied maybe was asking for the revenge on the revenger (basically for the guy to kill himself), I thought that would have been a fun direction but in all I was disappointed in the places of this story in the book and the plot all together. This was my least favorite.
My Name is Finn seemed to have to worst positioning. You cannot end that story like they did then the next page on the eBook asks for a review. I wanted to vent out my frustration and give the entire book a bad rating because of that ending. I respected the plot but wish it was set with an older boy. I didn’t think it plausible a four-year old was being referenced to feeling empathy and consoling a neighbor and had enough mental capacity to understand that his wife had died and he was feeling lonely. I don’t like stories that in my mind stretch reality.
The Unsuspecting Nature of Grief was refreshing. It all seemed to go a certain way, you followed happily along expecting a certain scenario then the story took a turn and you fell in love with the twist trying to keep up with how different the direction had gone. I would love to see some of her other stories.
Ghostwriter was intense, and to me it read like a movie. I loved the pun in the title. It was hard to imagine that intense of a reaction to the situation that unfolded so that held me back from falling too far in love with this story. Also I really wanted a different ending and was a little sad the main event in the story happened in the first few paragraphs and the story was really just the reaction of the after blow. I really wanted the story to end differently with the wife seeking her own revenge since out of all the characters, if I was her I would have beat down a motel room door, an office door, and many other things to rip the husband a new one.
Life is a Great Teacher I enjoyed. I actually thought it held a bit of humor to it with how assumptions can make a situation worse and everyone had heard stories about crazy mother-in-laws. I loved how it circled back around and completed itself. I enjoyed how it had two different directions at the beginning that blended together perfectly.
Do Seconds Even Matter seemed like a twisted kind of inspirational plot. I didn’t like that they kept the disease a mystery for so long and I was so caught up in the illusion of what was wrong with her mom that I was distracted from the story. I was actually a little pissed how it ended because who in their right mind would still have empathy towards her after what she did. The character must have had some serious brain damage done along with all the other broken parts of him.
The seventh and final tale in the dazzling, heartwarming, pulse-racing Weekday Brides series.
New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her two teenage sons in Southern California.
Danger lurks beneath. . . .
Genetically engineered to survive in the ocean, Nere and her friends are recovering from their treacherous journey to Safety Harbor, an undersea refuge founded by the scientists of the Neptune Project. But plenty of enemies prowl just outside the colony's boundaries, and when two of the children are kidnapped, Nere, her loyal dolphins, and the other Neptune kids must set out on an expedition even more perilous than their first.
Tasked with infiltrating the kidnapper's high-tech undersea base, Nere soon discovers that rescuing the missing Neptune kids isn't all there is to her mission: the secret to saving the world's oceans is hidden somewhere deep inside this vast fortress, and she and her friends will have to risk everything to find it.
With bloodthirsty shark mutates and savage kids roaming the corridors, will Nere and her companions find a way to save their friends, themselves, and their underwater world? The stakes couldn't be higher in this thrilling sequel to the award-winning The Neptune Project.
Published May 19th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Current GoodReads Rating: 4.69 Stars
I was a little lost in the beginning trying to figure out the previous story, as it kept referencing back to events that had happened in the first book, thinking they would hold a large spot in the second book. It definitely would have been a better read if I would have read both, but I wanted to see if this would be a good standalone first. It seemed like they assumed you already knew everyone as they breezed through the introductions to about a dozen dolphin names and another dozen spliced together, mutant characters. It took me a few chapters to understand exactly what they were, if they were humans in scuba equipment, mermaids, or fish.
After I got past the first few chapters and the adventure begins to Atlantea, I appreciated that the story focused in on just a few members of the large group of friends, in order to get to know them and their relationships with one another in more depth. The story held my interest and became more and more intriguing as the plot took shape. Then after arriving at Atlantea, I was hesitant that once again about another ten characters were being introduced and it acted as a speed bump as you had to learn what these characters had been spliced with and their relationships with one another as well. It took me another few chapters to understand clearly each of their roles in the story and get back to focusing on the plot. As the story developed I understood the purpose of each character, but the mass introductions to me seemed to break up the story line and make me lose interest for a bit.
The second half of the book is where the action happened and it held my attention to the point I didn't want to put the book down. I enjoyed the development of the villain and getting to see all the tests he ran on the characters and then to see how his "lab experiments" really felt about each. The ending did seem extremely rushed, I know the “four day to attack” deadline was approaching fast and it was inevitable that they would have to try and escape soon, but I didn't like that two of the main characters were exiled and the story focusing on them locked in a dark room. When you realize what all went on outside of that room in that short time as the other characters put together a team and escape plan, I felt cheated to that part of the story. I think if this was a movie and I wasn't able to see the development of the escape plot I would be disappointed because that's one of the most exciting parts to the story, the other half being the actual escape. Even the actual escape was cut short as you only saw one side of the escape with the small team collecting the data they were sent to Atlantea for. You get to assume what happened in the epic fight with the sharkheads involving every other character in the book, with it mentioning scars and arms being bite off. I enjoyed the story and I would recommend this series to kids, but it ended with my wishing there was less in the front end of the story and more on the back end. I gave the book 3.5 stars out of 5. This book was so graciously given to me by the publisher for an unbiased, honest review. Thank you.
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by Reavis Wortham
At the tail end of 1967, the Parker family once again finds it impossible to hide from a world spinning out of control. Fourteen-year-old Top still can't fit in with their Center Springs, Texas, community or forget recent, vicious crimes. His near-twin cousin Pepper, desperate to escape her own demons, rashly joins the Flower Children flocking to California―just as two businessmen are kidnapped and murdered in the Red River bottoms on the same night a deadly hit and run kills a farmer. Constable Ned Parker wonders if these crimes are connected, but he goes after Pepper, leaving the investigation in the hands of Sheriff Cody Parker. Parker hires Deputy Anna Sloan, an investigator with an eye toward detail as everyone is eyeing her. Yet it is instinct that propels her after killers through a world nearly forgotten, the hunt’s backdrop one of continuous rain, gloomy skies, and floods. When she’s ambushed, the investigation accelerates into gunfire, chases, and hair-raising suspense. What of Pepper? Out on Route 66, the Mother Road to California, a man named Crow isn't what he seems. Lies, deceptions, and a band of outlaw motorcyclists proves to the Parkers that no matter where you turn, no matter what you do, the world is full of such darkness that even grandmothers are capable of unspeakable deeds.
As a boy, award-winning writer Reavis Z. Wortham hunted and fished the river bottoms near Chicota, Texas, the inspiration for his fictional Center Springs. Reavis Z. Wortham’s critically acclaimed debut novel, The Rock Hole, was listed in a Starred Review by Kirkus Reviews as one of their “Top Mysteries of 2011.” Burrows, the second novel in this critically acclaimed series received a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly, and The Library Journal listed it as One of Nine Historical Mysteries for the Summer of 2012. Vengeance is Mine, Book 4, was listed by True West magazine as one of their Top 5 Modern Westerns of 2015. A retired educator of 35 years, Reavis and wife Shana live in Frisco, Texas.
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Christian Grey exercises control in all things; his world is neat, disciplined, and utterly empty—until the day that Anastasia Steele falls into his office, in a tangle of shapely limbs and tumbling brown hair. He tries to forget her, but instead is swept up in a storm of emotion he cannot comprehend and cannot resist. Unlike any woman he has known before, shy, unworldly Ana seems to see right through him—past the business prodigy and the penthouse lifestyle to Christian’s cold, wounded heart.
Will being with Ana dispel the horrors of his childhood that haunt Christian every night? Or will his dark sexual desires, his compulsion to control, and the self-loathing that fills his soul drive this girl away and destroy the fragile hope she offers him?
Published June 18th 2015
Current GoodReads Rating: 3.82 Stars
I listened to this as an audio book from Audiobooks.com App. The app is easy to navigate around in, but every time I had to leave listening for the day or pause to do something else I was scared it would lose my spot. It didn't seem to have any form of bookmarks but even with exiting out of the app it never did lose my spot.
I would recommend the app for up to date books that are easy to pause and start back up again while through normal earphone controls. The app also has the option to speed up the speed to an insanity speed. I would give this a 4 out of 4 stars.
I don't normally enjoy reading the same plot twice just from a different perspective but with the anticipation of this series I couldn't resist. It was as expected just a recap of the same story with minor tweaks but nothing thrown out of left field to intrigue me and catch me at in awe.
I did like a glimpse of his childhood thrown into the background, but to start it out as the beginning, I didn't like. I would give this as well a 3 out of 4 rating. It had been so long since I had originally read the first of the series, then after being disappointed by the movie, it was refreshing to get back to the story again. The movie seemed to miss out of so much detail and took the story and rewrote in my opinion butchering it from the book. It also seemed that some of the conversations where remembered differently than in the original book. Did anyone else notice that?
I've seen a few good different point of view books which did not change the original plot but added a better depth to the specific character and maybe having some family twists that would spice things up but come to the same conclusion. I did need to read this because Christian was such a monotone, flat character I needed to hear his side of things. He wasn't too much more exciting that I imagined but it gave him a little more depth and heart. To those who made fun of the book's BDSM stand on things and how it was so far off from a normal relationship arrangement, the story with his perspective shows how he slowly caves to her and has a more powerful drive to get her and keep those happy memories together coming. It's worth reading if you were intrigued by the series.