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Blog Tour — What Lies Below

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WHAT LIES BELOW

by

Barbara Taylor Sissel

Genre: Contemporary Mystery / Literary Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: May 15, 2018

Number of Pages: 334

  

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Gilly O’Connell’s nightmares aren’t just bad dreams; they’re glimpses of terrifying realities to come. Gilly has spent her entire life trying to suppress the foreboding visions. So when a dismissed premonition leads to her husband’s murder, she buries the guilt and pain of the unsolved crime in the only way she knows how—she runs from it.

Three years later, after overcoming a battle with addiction and starting over in a small Texas town, Gilly dares to believe the worst is over. That is, until another crime rips her heart open: the abduction of a three-year-old girl. Gilly knows more about it than anyone…

She’s dreaming again.

Gilly is convinced that if she tells the police she dreamed of the kidnapping before it happened, there’s no way they’ll believe her. But when she finally gets the courage to come forward with what she saw, people don’t see her as crazy—they see her as a suspect.

Now, in order to help a desperate single father save his child, Gilly must first clear her own name. But as the nightmares of the past catch up to her, Gilly’s only chance for salvation might be the dreams she’s spent so long trying to ignore.

PRAISE FOR WHAT LIES BELOW:

“Infused with heart-stopping suspense, emotional resonance, and startling imagery, What Lies Below swept me along a river of urgency and dread. Barbara Taylor Sissel effortlessly weaves together prescience, regret, grief, love, and revenge—all wrapped in the mystery of a young girl’s abduction. Beneath the breathless immediacy of the story lie deeper questions: How do we forgive ourselves—and others—for remembered transgressions, and can we ever break free of the past?” —A. J. Banner, #1 Amazon and USA Today bestselling author of The Good Neighbor and The Twilight Wife

“Barbara Taylor Sissel’s What Lies Below is suspense at its finest—heartrending, compelling, and beautifully written. If you’re looking for your next up-all-night read, look no further.” —Jessica Strawser, author of Almost Missed You and Not That I Could Tell

“I cannot emphasize this enough: you must read What Lies Below. Barbara Taylor Sissel manages to combine an unreliable narrator, twisting plot, and well imagined characters to create a world where nothing is as it seems and secrets abound. I had intended to savor the novel’s lovely prose but wound up devouring the book in a day. Simply fantastic.” —Karen McQuestion, bestselling author of Hello Love

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ON WRITING, PART TWO

GUEST POST BY BARBARA SISSEL

(originally posted 9/21/17 on Women Writers, Women’s Books)

Click to read PART ONE, posted on the 5/22/18 blog stop with Lone Star Book Blog Tours

I was often the one fighting tears, listening to the stories, the often-heartbreaking ways in which a family’s life was altered by their son’s crime. I hadn’t ever thought of crime in terms of collateral damage before, especially when it came to the families of the perpetrators.

When my first son was born, and we brought him home to the prison, a few days later, when I was asked to come down to the dining hall on a pretext, I was reluctant. I looked awful for one thing. I was the picture of the exhausted new mom. But when I got there the scene that greeted me brought me to tears.

Those guys had collected gifts for my baby. They’d had one of their moms make a quilt, chipped in to buy a savings bond, booties, a box of diapers. They’d made dinner for me and baked a cake. Inmates, in a prison! Now that I had my own child, a son, I thought about it—how despite the way he was raised, things could go wrong. I might one day be the mother of an inmate. I’d met a few such mothers; I knew firsthand they weren’t different from me.

After I finished my first novel, I saw an article in the Houston Chronicle about a relatively young guy on death row, located then at the Walls unit in Huntsville. He was labeled a volunteer because he had declined further appeals and asked the judge to set the date of his execution. It sent a chill through me.

I wondered how it must be to know the date of your death, what it must feel like, watching the days pass until that day arrives. And then I thought: What must it feel like to be his mother? I wrote the book, the second book, exposing my idea of that journey and how it might unfold. I couldn’t stop myself.

After we left Kentucky, we received Christmas cards from several of the inmates through the years. Most of them turned their lives around. I think being segregated in a rural setting with lots of one-on-one counseling from gifted counselors like my husband was key to their success.

At the time the program was in place, the inmate recidivism rate dropped a significant amount. And a seed was planted in my brain, one that I continue to nourish, or possibly it continues to nourish me.

The books I’ve authored aren’t the ones I planned to write. They evolved out of my experience, where I was given a bird’s eye view of the indomitability of the human spirit and the heart’s capacity to love and to forgive. Along the way, I conceived of a tagline, which pretty much sums it up: At the heart of every crime, there’s a family, someone you love. In every book, I search for the place where it’s impossible to forgive, impossible to allow love to heal. I haven’t found it yet.

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Barbara Taylor Sissel writes issue oriented, upmarket women’s fiction that is threaded with elements of suspense and defined by its particular emphasis on how crime affects the family. Born in Honolulu, Hawaii, she was raised in various locations across the US and once lived with her family on the grounds of a first offender prison facility. The experience, interacting with the inmates and staff, provided a unique insight into the inmate’s lives, the circumstances behind the crimes they committed, and the impact on the families that were affected. The bestselling author of nine novels, her stories focus on the family at the heart of the crime. An avid gardener and the mother of two grown sons, Barbara lives in the Texas Hill Country. She’s represented by Barbara Poelle at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency.

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MAY 15-24, 2018

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VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:

5/15/18 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
5/16/18 Review Dressed to Read
5/17/18 Author Interview That’s What She’s Reading
5/18/18 Review The Clueless Gent
5/19/18 Notable Quotable/Bonus Review The Love of a Bibliophile
5/20/18 Notable Quotable Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
5/21/18 Review A Page Before Bedtime
5/22/18 Guest Post Part 1 Reading by Moonlight
5/23/18 Guest Post Part 2 Books in the Garden
5/24/18 Review Book Fidelity

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Book Review · Guest · LSBBT

Blog Tour & Review — Sins of the Younger Sons

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SINS OF THE

YOUNGER SONS

by

JAN REID

Genre: Literary Fiction / Romance / Spy / Thriller

Publisher: Texas Christian University Press

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Publication Date: February 28, 2018

Number of Pages: 296 pages

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Cover lo res Sins of the Younger Sons

Sins of the Younger Sons has received the Jesse H. Jones Award for Fiction from the Texas Institute of Letters! Luke Burgoa is an ex-Marine on a solitary covert mission to infiltrate the Basque separatist organization ETA in Spain and help bring down its military commander, Peru Madariaga. Luke hails from a Basque ancestry that came with the Spanish empire to Cuba, Argentina, Mexico, and, seventy-five years ago, to a Texas ranch. Neighbors consider the Burgoas Mexican immigrants and exiles of that nation’s revolution, but the matriarch of the family speaks the ancient language Euskera and honors traditions of the old country. Luke’s orders are to sell guns to the ETA and lure Peru into a trap. Instead he falls in love with Peru’s estranged wife, Ysolina, who lives in Paris and pursues a doctorate about an Inquisition-driven witchcraft frenzy in her native land. From the day they cross the border into the Basque Pyrenees, their love affair on the run conveys the beauty, sensuality, exoticism, and violence of an ancient homeland cut in two by Spain and France. Their trajectory puts Luke, Ysolina, and Peru on a collision course with each other and the famed American architect Frank Gehry, whose construction of a Guggenheim art museum seeks to transform the Basque city of Bilbao, a decrepit industrial backwater haunted by the Spanish Civil War—and a hotbed of ETA extremism. Ranging from the Amazon rain forest to a deadly prison in Madrid, Sins of the Younger Sons is a love story exposed to dire risk at every turn.

PRAISE FOR SINS OF THE YOUNGER SONS:

“Reid’s story is a fascinating blend of page-turning thriller and vivid tableau of Basque culture and the movement that battled the Spanish establishment for many decades. A reader can’t ask for more—a book that’s engaging, entertaining, educative, and unique.”

—Thomas Zigal, author of Many Rivers to Cross and The White League
“What a fine book Jan Reid has written! At once history—both cultural and political—and sensual love story, it reaches beyond genre to make for a magical and profound reading experience. Don’t start reading it at night unless you want to stay up until dawn and then some.” —Beverly Lowry, author of Who Killed These Girls? and Harriet Tubman: Imagining a Life
“Page by page, Sins of the Younger Sons invites the reader to dwell for a while within its unique world, to suffer and celebrate with its unforgettable characters. It’s a trip that, if taken, is well worth the effort.” —Ed Conroy, San Antonio Express-News
“Sins of the Younger Sons vividly takes us into a world few of us have seen and into a bitter conflict most of us have never considered nor understood.” —Si Dunn, Dallas Morning News

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review

This is certainly an intricately crafted, thoroughly thought out, and researched novel.

In the beginning it almost seems like a handful of only slightly-related stories, but as the novel progresses you realize just how tied together these stories are. It’s also a reminder that politics stretch over time periods, each with their fingers entwined in what has happened in the past, and what they want out of the future. Isolated incidents are rarely such, and sometimes the reasons reach far into the past.

I love how much of the language, culture, and explanations found their way into this novel. It was certainly an immersive experience in that way.

However, because of the use of Basque, Spanish, and sometime French dialogue, the reading was greatly slowed down. There were also times when the characters would slip into thinking about their past almost imperceptibly, and I’d have to go back and find the place where it changed so I could know it wasn’t the “current” time of the story. I found this book to be a but more challenging than what I typically choose; that’s not a bad thing, it just requires a different amount of effort and type of reading headspace.

I think the characters in this story are very human and want a lot of the same things most people do–a better world–even if the means to the end aren’t quite ideal. I didn’t really find myself empathizing with them though.

This book is a great choice for people who enjoy literary pieces that turn on the brain.

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Author Reid

Jan Reid’s highly praised books include his novel Comanche Sundown, his biography of Texas governor Ann Richards, Let the People In, his memoir of Mexico, The Bullet Meant for Me, and The Improbable Rise of Redneck Rock. Making his home in Austin, Reid has been a leading contributor to Texas Monthly for over forty years.

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Book Review · LSBBT

Blog Tour & Review — The Way Of Beauty

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THE WAY OF BEAUTY

by

Camille Di Maio

Genre: Historical Fiction / 20th Century / Literary

Publisher: Lake Union Press

Date of Publication: May 1, 2018

Number of Pages: 384  

Scroll down for the giveaway! Continue reading “Blog Tour & Review — The Way Of Beauty”

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Blog Tour — Blood and Remembrance

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by

CHRIS MANNO

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction

Publisher: Dark Horse Books

Publication Date: March 3, 2018

Number of Pages: 321 pages

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Continue reading “Blog Tour — Blood and Remembrance”

Guest · LSBBT

Blog Tour — A Borrowed Dream

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A BORROWED DREAM

The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2

by

Amanda Cabot

Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational

Publisher: Revell

Date of Publication: March 20, 2018

Number of Pages: 352

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Continue reading “Blog Tour — A Borrowed Dream”

Book Review · Guest · LSBBT

Blog Tour & Review — Mornings on Main

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MORNINGS ON MAIN:

A Small-Town Texas Novel

by

Jodi Thomas

Genre: Mainstream Romance

Publisher: HQN

Number of Pages: 320 pages

AVAILABLE APRIL 10, 2018!

Continue reading “Blog Tour & Review — Mornings on Main”

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Blog Tour – Wickwythe Hall

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WICKWYTHE HALL

by

Judithe Little

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Date of Publication: September 30, 2017

Number of Pages: 324

*Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist*

*2018 Reader Views Readers’ Choice Award for Historical Fiction*

*Winner of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction*

*Official selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club*

  

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May 1940. The Germans invade France and the course of three lives is upended. Annelle LeMaire is a French refugee desperate to contact her Legionnaire brothers. Mabry Springs, American wife of a wealthy Brit, is struggling to come to terms with a troubled marriage and imminent German invasion. And Reid Carr, American representative of French champagne house Pol Roger, brings more than champagne to Prime Minister Winston Churchill. Their paths entwine when Churchill and his entourage take refuge at Wickwythe Hall, the Springs’ country estate hidden from the full moon and German bombers beneath a shroud of trees. There, as secrets and unexpected liaisons unfold, Annelle, Mabry, and Reid are forever bound by the tragedy they share.

Part Downton Abbey, part Darkest Hour, Wickwythe Hall was inspired by an actual confrontation between the British and French navies in July 1940 and is a story of love, loyalty, and heartrending choices.

PRAISE FOR WICKWYTHE HALL:

“…a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war…engaging…”  — Foreword Reviews

“Little’s characterization of Churchill is so well done. She makes his personality and presence so real. Mabry was a character to be admired for her decisions and actions. A good read with a satisfying ending.”   — Historical Novels Review

“Judithe Little tackles war and masterfully boils it down to personal moral dilemmas. Beautifully written and rich with atmosphere…Wickwythe Hall is a stellar achievement.”  — Ann Weisgarber, author of The Personal History of Rachel DuPree and The Promise

“…an emotional and touching story about the lives of three people during World War II, at the time of Hitler’s invasion of France in 1940. Inspired by real people, places and events in history, this whirlwind novel will no doubt leave an imprint on your heart long after you finish reading.”  — Reader Views

“If you love history, beautifully rendered characters, and stories that will tug at your heart, add Wickwythe Hall to your list.”  — Book Perfume

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Why I Wrote Wickwythe Hall

Guest Post by Judithe Little

In May 1940, Germany invaded France. In June, 1940, France surrendered. Under the terms of the surrender, France was required to turn its warships over to the Germans. At that time, the bulk of the French fleet was across the Mediterranean at Mers el-Kebir, an Algerian port. Winston Churchill was Prime Minister of England at the time, and he knew that if the Germans got possession of the French ships, it would be just a matter of time before England would have to surrender. The US wasn’t in the war yet and wouldn’t be for another year and a half. Roosevelt had promised not to send any more American boys to fight in foreign wars. It was an election year, and Americans wanted nothing to do with the war in Europe.

Churchill was desperate. The survival of his country was at stake. He came up with a plan he called Operation Catapult. In the middle of the night, the Royal Navy set out for Mers el-Kebir. They arrived on the morning of July 3rd just as the sun was set to rise over the brown, sandy hills, the French ships glittering in the distance. There, the British presented options to the French. One—destroy your ships by your own hand right here and right now. Two—if you won’t do this, then we’ll be forced to do it for you. It was a bitter task, as the British considered the French their friends. Just days before, they’d been fighting the Germans alongside each other.

The French didn’t take the British ultimatum well.  They were humiliated after having to surrender in just one month. They were resentful toward the British after Dunkirk where the British evacuated themselves all the way across the English Channel and left the French to face the Germans on their own. And the British were supposed to be their allies. Now here they were, kicking the French when they were down.

The French naval officers told the British they would never let the Germans use their ships against them and that they should trust the French word of honor. The British replied that they trusted the French; it was the Germans they didn’t trust.

It was an impasse. The French ships tried to escape the harbor, but they were fish in a barrel. The British opened fire and destroyed almost all of the French warships, killing over 1,000 French sailors in the process.

I first heard of this incident by happenstance when I was reading a biography of Coco Chanel. It was just a short paragraph in the middle of the book, but it stopped me. At first, I thought it might have been a typo or an error. I couldn’t imagine the British and the French firing at each other during World War II. I asked friends and family if they’d heard of it, and most of them had not. I couldn’t believe that such a heart-wrenching story wasn’t common knowledge.

But it wasn’t. And it isn’t. Winston Churchill called what happened at Mers el-Kebir Greek tragedy. The British newspapers called it a horrible necessity. The French called it murder. I wanted to bring this forgotten piece of history to back to life.

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author pic Judithe Little

Judithe Little grew up in Virginia and earned a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. After studying at the Institute of European Studies and the Institut Catholique in Paris, France, and interning at the U.S. Department of State, she earned a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law where she was on the Editorial Board of the Journal of International Law and a Dillard Fellow. She lives with her husband, three teenagers, and three dogs in Houston, Texas, where she’s at work on her next historical novel set in France.  

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3/27/18 Guest Post 1 Books in the Garden
3/27/18 Bonus Post Hall Ways Blog
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