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Monday, January 21, 2019

LSBBT BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Aransas Evening by Jeff Hamptom (Contemporary)

Sequel to Aransas Morning

Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction
Publisher: Jeff Hampton, Writer
Publication Date: October 4, 2018
Number of Pages: 346 pages


Life in Port Aransas was looking breezy and bright for Sam and his friends at the Dream Bean coffee shop. Shelly and Dave were talking marriage, Allie and Bo were tightening their family ties, and Sam was welcoming newcomers to town and falling for a new singer at the Sea Garden. But storms are never far away on the Texas Gulf Coast, and there would be none more destructive than Hurricane Harvey. Would Sam and his friends survive Harvey’s awful fury? And would life in Port Aransas ever be the same again? Find out in Aransas Evening, the sequel to Aransas Morning by Jeff Hampton.

Author WebsiteAmazon │ Etsy


“Hampton’s characters pulled me in; hook, line, and sinker.”

“The pace of the book is slow and easy, and I slipped into its rhythm like the ebb and flow of the water lapping against the shoreline.”

“A lovely story about community, and how family isn’t always the one you are born into."

“Isak Dinesen once wrote, ‘The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.’  Jeff Hampton has illustrated that with grace, elegance, and excellent coffee.”

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

"The summer sun pressed down hard on the Aransas shoreline, turning the loose, dry sand on the beach into a pale, gritty ash that burned the bottoms of even the toughest feet and sent the tourists retreating to the cool of their condos and restaurants."

As a native of Corpus Christi, I am quite familiar with the Port Aransas area and this book immediately set a strong sense of place along the Texas coast that I call home. The entire time I was reading, I couldn't shake the sensation that I been thrust back there again! The author beautifully and meticulously captured the setting in such incredible detail that I could feel the salty breeze blowing through my hair, the gritty sand between my toes, and hear the cawing of seagulls, the waves lapping, and the ferry's metallic drone! His picturesque descriptions are utterly breathtaking and definitely enhance the mood of this intensely atmospheric story.

While the first book, ARANSAS MORNING, is the story of how a discordant group of individuals comes together to create the family they ultimately need, this book returns to their lives and delves deeper into those forged bonds. Each is tested again through some tragic or unfortunate circumstances, culminating with Hurricane Harvey's arrival. I had anticipated the hurricane to drive the tension and plot; however, it crept in quite suddenly, as these things tend to do, near the end. Regardless, I thoroughly appreciated the author's use of storms as a metaphor to place perspective throughout the story on their own unique and personal pain especially when a literal storm rages down on them. Ranking as the second most costly hurricane to hit the U.S. mainland, it is a visceral reminder that such devastating storms are both terrifyingly life-quenching in the moment yet pregnant with possibility in the aftermath. In stark contrast to its violent and fierce nature, the hurricane brought out the nurturing and supporting force within this community to solidify friendship and love even in the most unlikely places. 

'It may look to you like we're all longtime friends, but we're not...What I'm trying to say is that none of us woke up one day and decided to create this...this family...that we seem to have. It just happened.'

I really appreciated how authentic, realistic, and quite contradictory this cast of characters was portrayed.  They were all hardworking, friendly individuals who found themselves facing struggles like anyone else and picked themselves up using their healthy connections and relationships with one another to keep moving forward. None of them was perfect and they didn't always make the best choices, but they continued to push themselves as well as each other towards redemption and happiness, and in the end, I believe that's really all any of us can do. 

As with much of island life, the pacing is much slower, strengthening that sleepy vibe of tourist centered locales. This heavily drawn character study is immersive, heartwarming, masterfully relatable, and delightfully engaging. 

Jeff Hampton has based his life and career in Texas writing for newspapers, magazines, businesses, and institutions. His interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms. Aransas Evening is his sixth book, following Aransas Morning, Grandpa Jack, Jonah Prophet, When the Light Returned to Main Street, and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane



Grand Prize Winner: 
2 Winners:
Signed Copies of both Aransas books + Grandpa Jack + a pack of Texas Themed note cards
2 Winners:
Signed Copies of Aransas Evening & Grandpa Jack + a pack of Texas Themed note cards

JANUARY 17-26, 2019
Best of luck!

Many thanks to Lone Star Book Tours and Jeff Hampton! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Author Interview
Guest Post

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Friday, January 18, 2019

LSBBT GUEST POST: Dr. Arthur Spohn by Jane Clements Monday and Frances Brannen Vick (Non-Fiction)

Surgeon, Inventor, and Texas Medical Pioneer

Genre: Non-Fiction / Medical / Texas History / Biography
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication Date: September 12, 2018
Number of Pages: 352 pages. 78 b&w photos. Map. 4 Appendices. Index.

In this first comprehensive biography of Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn, authors Jane Clements Monday, Frances Brannen Vick, and Charles W. Monday Jr., MD, illuminate the remarkable nineteenth-century story of a trailblazing physician who helped to modernize the practice of medicine in Texas.
Arthur Spohn was unusually innovative for the time and exceptionally dedicated to improving medical care. Among his many surgical innovations was the development of a specialized tourniquet for “bloodless operations” that was later adopted as a field instrument by militaries throughout the world. To this day, he holds the world record for the removal of the largest tumor—328 pounds—from a patient who fully recovered. Recognizing the need for modern medical care in South Texas, Spohn, with the help of Alice King, raised funds to open the first hospital in Corpus Christi. Today, his name and institutional legacy live on in the region through the Christus Spohn Health System, the largest hospital system in South Texas. This biography of a medical pioneer recreates for readers the medical, regional, and family worlds in which Spohn moved, making it an important contribution not only to the history of South Texas, but also to the history of modern medicine.


The chapters in the book are mesmerizing...the photographs in the book are priceless and probably cannot be seen by the general public except in this book. This is much more than a biography of Dr. Spohn and his medical triumphs. It is a book about life in South Texas from 1865 to the 1920s and beyond. Dr. Arthur Edward Spohn was part of that history and his contributions to medicine and the development of South Texas have guaranteed his legacy for years to come. This book is the proof.
-- Dr. Manuel Flores, Texana Reads

This is no dry medical text. Even if you have little interest in the medical field, you'll be astonished at the life of this accomplished physician and surgeon. 
-- Allison Ehrlich, Corpus Christi Caller Times

Bowman/Lampman Loyalist Families Leave
Lasting Legacy: Dr. Arthur Spohn 
By Jane Monday, Dr. Charles Monday, and Frances Vick

(first published in the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada Newsletter, August 12, 2018)

Loyalist son, Dr. Arthur Spohn (1845-1913), became a medical pioneer. He still holds today the Guinness World Record for the largest tumor (328 pounds) ever removed with the patient surviving. He performed the first successful caesarian hysterectomy on a malacosteon (severe scoliosis) in the United States and invented the rubber ring tourniquet for bloodless operations used in military field hospitals around the world. His snakebite remedy was requested as far away as India. In 1888 he carried a rabid patient to the Pasteur Institute in Paris, France, where Dr. Pasteur saved the patient's life and gave Dr. Spohn the rabies vaccine to bring back to America.

Who was Dr. Spohn and how did his Loyalist roots influence his remarkable achievements? Dr. Spohn's family survived the brutal treatment of British Loyalists during the American Revolution. His great grandfather, Jacob Bowman and his family, were attacked by American rebels in the middle of a winter's night. Their house was pillaged of every article except the bed on which his sick wife was giving birth and left them with only the bed and one blanket. Half an hour after they took Jacob and his oldest child captive his wife gave birth to his youngest child, leaving his wife with an infant and six children. They would all have perished if friendly First Nations had not administered to them. While Jacob and his son were imprisoned, the family endured many hardships including near starvation. They fled to Upper Canada to help establish a new nation, "with their axes clear[ing] the forests and with their hoes plant[ing] the seeds of Canada's future greatness." From these experiences this Loyalist family instilled the qualities of fearlessness, conviction and loyalty in their children while providing them all with an excellent education.

Jacob's son Peter married Loyalist family member Magdalena Lampman. Tradition has it that the song "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was composed by a British officer billeted in the Lampman home, written to mock the disorganized rebels. Peter and his wife moved to Wilson Mills, later Ancaster, and established a school and church and raised their daughter Elizabeth with the values of hard work, Christian values, and loyalty to England. She responded to Dr. Egerton Ryerson's request to chronicle "the cruel treatment by the professed friends of liberty, their privations, suffering, courage and industry in settling Canada." Her words were chosen to be used on the United Empire Loyalist monument in Hamilton, Ontario, entitled "For the Unity of Empire."

Elizabeth married Philip Spaun/Spohn and together they had eleven children. The Bowman/Spohn family continued their close ties with the First Nations people. Jacob had been in the Indian Department during the French and Indian War and spoke several dialects. Two sons, Peter and Adam, served with Butler's Rangers, wore Indian garments and also spoke several Indian dialects. Peter's grandsons, Henry and Arthur Spohn, spoke the Mohawk language. Every spring the Mohawks moved through the territory and camped on the Spohn fields where the children played together. Later both Henry and Arthur had strong feelings about the mistreatment of the Native Americans in Texas and the brutal treatment they suffered at the hands of the United States Army.

Arthur's family also played a major role in church history. They were strong Methodist who first hosted the church services, then helped establish Bowman Church, which served as the home base for Methodist ministers for sixty years. The Bowman Church hosted the first Canadian Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church held Aug. 29, 1829, where they decided to create a Book Room (later Ryerson Press); to establish an Upper Canada Academy (later Victoria College); to publish a church newspaper, The Christian Guardian, and organized Canada' first Total Abstinence Society. This church is also known as the "Sliding Church." One of the Spohn relatives said they were the only family to help build a church, helped steal a church, helped burn one down and rebuild another.

Of Philip and Elizabeth's children, three brothers, a sister and brother-in-law, and five nephews went to lawless Texas and made names for themselves. It is family lore that the Spohn men were doctors, lawyers and devils. These men and women brought their talents, skills and perhaps in some instances, their devilment to Texas. Dr. Arthur Spohn's strong Loyalist values that were passed on to him through the family led to his remarkable career and legacy. In South Texas, where he drove miles in a buggy to perform surgery in primitive conditions on kitchen tables by kerosene lamps, stands now a modern hospital system named in his honor. The Christus Spohn Health System has six acute care hospital campuses, chest pain center, cancer center, stroke program, women's health hospital, and six family health centers. This Loyalist family left a strong legacy and one that serves as a tribute today to the values instilled in them by their brave and fearless Canadian ancestors.

JANE CLEMENTS MONDAY is the author of numerous books and coauthor, with Frances Brannen Vick, of award-winning Petra’s Legacy: The South Texas Ranching Empire of Petra Vela and Mifflin Kenedy and Letters to Alice: Birth of the Kleberg-King Ranch Dynasty. She has served as chair of the Texas State University System Board of Regents and mayor of Huntsville, Texas. She resides in Huntsville.  

FRANCES BRANNEN VICK is the author or coauthor of numerous books, including Petra’s Legacy and Letters to Alice. She founded E-Heart Press and cofounded the University of North Texas Press. Vick has served as president of the Texas Institute of Letters, the Texas State Historical Association, and the Philosophical Society of Texas. She resides in Dallas. 

Frances Vick's Amazon Author Page

Many thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and Jane Clements Monday and Frances Brannen Vick! It was a pleasure hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

Scrapbook Page
Guest Post
Guest Post

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: The Wrong Boy by Cathy Ace (Suspense)

Cathy Ace

Genre: Suspense/Thriller
Publisher: Four Tails Publishing
Publication Date: January 9, 2019
Number of Pages: 307 pages


Perched on a Welsh clifftop, the ancient, picturesque hamlet of Rhosddraig has its peaceful fa├žade ripped apart when human remains are discovered under a pile of stones. The village pub, The Dragon’s Head, run by three generations of women, becomes the focal point for those interested in the grisly find, and it’s where layers of deceit are peeled away to expose old secrets, and deep wounds. The police need to establish who died, how, and why, but DI Evan Glover knows he can’t be involved in the investigation, because he’s just two days away from retirement. However, as the case develops in unexpected ways, it becomes irrevocably woven into his life, and the lives of local families, leading to disturbing revelations – and deadly consequences . . .


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

From the book's haunting cover design to the intriguing synopsis, I was instantly captivated and could not wait to delve into this one! The author's picturesque descriptions are utterly breathtaking and enhance the mood of this intensely atmospheric story. She captures the setting of this Welsh town in such amazing detail and interweaves its history into the narrative in such a gripping way that in a sense it becomes its own character as well. 

Spanning a realistic timeline and told in multiple yet seamless perspectives, this is a slow-burning and deeply twisted mystery that packs a powerful punch. A compelling array of discussions into mother-daughter relationships, generational insolence, obsession, and dueling investigative techniques opens up through the strong dialogue and each character's internal conversation. The author's deft storytelling created not just an unsettling and suspenseful read, but a masterful character study on family dysfunction and the unrelenting nature of law enforcement. 

This was also a fascinating exploration into the role of the unreliable narrator. You quickly discover that hardly anyone is being honest with each other let alone with themselves. Everyone has something to hide and very few of these characters have any insight into their own shortcomings, so it certainly becomes quite difficult to trust anyone or predict where the story is going to go. This definitely kept me on the edge of my seat and the pages flying! As each voice gradually converges towards complete understanding for the reader, it became increasingly obvious how skilled the author was at maintaining a clever plot through the smooth flow of what initially seemed so disparate. Ultimately, these convoluted and conflicted relationships unravel into an unforgettable and grisly conclusion that shouldn't be missed! 

Born and raised in Wales, now-Canadian Cathy Ace is the author of the Cait Morgan Mysteries, featuring her Welsh Canadian criminology professor sleuth who travels the world tripping over corpses, and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries, featuring a quartet of female PIs, working from a Welsh stately home. Both series are traditional, entertaining, and have been well reviewed.



Many thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours and Cathy Ace! It was a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and extras!

January 8 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW
January 8 – Reading Authors – SPOTLIGHT
January 9 – The Power of Words – REVIEW
January 9 – Socrates Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 10 – MJB Reviewers – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 11 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 11 – The Book Decoder – REVIEW
January 12 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 12 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 13 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT
January 13 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT
January 14 – Mallory Heart’s Cozies – REVIEW
January 14 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
January 15 – That’s What She’s Reading – REVIEW
January 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT
January 16 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
January 17 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
January 17 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT
January 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW