Monday, August 29, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR August 29-September 4

Bookish events in Texas for the week of August 29-September 4, 2016: 


Ongoing Exhibits:

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Ross Ritchell reads and signs THE KNIFE, 7PM

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, Tom Walker reads and signs A Day in the Life, 6PM

Tuesday, August 30:
McKinney
El Dorado Country Club, Talmage Boston presents Cross-Examining History: A Lawyer Gets Answers From the Experts About Our Presidents, 4:30PM

Friday, September 2:
Inprint House, First Fridays Poetry Series featuring Gary Rosin, 8:30PM

Saturday, September 3:
Austin
B&N - Lincoln Park, Beth Bowland to sign Polaris, 3PM

Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar, Book Signing With Mike Rodriguez: Think BIG, 2PM

Houston
Half Price Books - North Oaks, Local Author Saturdays: Meet local Indie authors and pick up their latest release!, all day

Houston Public Library - Johnson, Public Poetry Reading Series featuring Carolyn Dahl, Vincent ‘BlackBluez’ Johnson, Paul Klinger, and Varsha Saraiya-Shah, 2PM

Lake Dallas
VFW Post 10460, Adam Kokesh speaking and signing Freedom!, 7:30PM

Plano
B&N - Creekwalk, Mark Pryor reads and signs The Paris Librarian, 4PM

Round Rock

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: GOOD AS GONE by Amy Gentry

I reviewed Good as Gone (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) by Amy Gentry for Lone Star Literary Life! This is Austinite Gentry's debut novel which challenges the conventions of the thriller genre. From the review:
Anna, Tom, and Jane are sitting down to dinner one night when the doorbell rings. Anna answers the door. “The first thing I see is her pale hair,” thinks Anna, “then her face … there’s something familiar about her.” Julie Whitaker has been gone for eight years, kidnapped from her bedroom at thirteen, “and just like that, the worst unhappens. Julie is home.” As the family tries to move forward, treading lightly, fault lines are exposed. When Anna gets a phone call from a private detective, he adds fuel to her dawning suspicions, and she begins to question this Julie’s identity. Is she or isn’t she? 
Beginning with the exquisite tension of the prologue, Good as Gone, Austinite Amy Gentry’s debut novel, is by turns gripping, insightful, brutal, depressing, and hopeful. Gentry, a veteran of volunteer work helping victims of domestic and sexual violence, dives deep into murky psychological territory and sets up camp, empathically conveying the particular and disparate mindsets of small children, teenage girls, and grown women alike. Gentry’s portrait of contemporary American girlhood — attempting to grow up in a culture that pounds them about the head and shoulders with the message that their bodies are commodities (but don’t you dare presume the power to use it as such—this is reserved for men) — is devastating.
Click here to read the entire review. Thank you!


Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR August 22-28

Bookish events in Texas for the week of August 22-28, 2016: 

Ongoing Exhibits:

San Antonio
The Korova, PuroSlam with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, August 24:

Murder By the Book, Andrew Gross will sign and discuss The One Man, 6:30PM

Thursday, August 25:
Houston
Poison Girl, Poison Pen Reading Series featuring Benjamin Rybek, Christopher Brean Murray, and Aliah Lavonne Tigh, 8:30PM

River Oaks Bookstore, David Lemaster reads and signs The Passers, 5PM

Friday, August 26:

Houston
Murder By the Book, Reading and signing with Elsa Hart and Julia Keller, 6:30PM

San Antonio
Austin

B&N - Preston/Royal, Beth Bowland signs Polaris, 2PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop with Sheela Wolford: "Living at the Treetop", 12:45PM

Frisco
B&N - Stonebriar, Coach G.A. Moore and Ed Housewright discuss and sign Beyond Just Win: A Profile of G.A. Moore, 4PM

Galveston
Galveston Bookshop, Maria Elena Sandovici signs Lost Path to Solitude, 3PM

Houston


Half Price Books - North Oaks, local author Vicky Dezine will sell and sign More Than a Woman, 1PM

Sunday, August 28:
Dallas

San Antonio
The Twig Book Shop, J. Ko discusses and signs Into Her World, 2PM


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER by Yvonne Georgina Puig

I reviewed A Wife of Noble Character (Henry Holt) by Yvonne Georgina Puig for Lone Star Literary Life! This debut novel is an update of Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, set among the oil-money elite of modern Houston. From the review:
Beautiful and pedigreed Vivienne Cally finds herself thirty years old, still living with her spiteful aunt, and working in a boutique for little more than minimum wage. Born to an oil fortune, Vivienne was orphaned as a very young child, and whatever money remains is controlled by her aunt, who has stipulated that Vivienne won’t see a dime unless she marries well. 
Future architect Preston Duffin is drawn to Vivienne, but has neither money nor pedigree. Preston, a scholarship student living in a garage apartment, hangs on the periphery of Vivienne’s privileged crowd, attempting to protect his ego by disdaining his friends’ values with lofty philosophy.
Vivienne makes a friend in Paris who tells her, “If you’re born into a world where you don’t belong, you don’t have a choice. You have to find a way out.” A Wife of Noble Character is the story of Vivienne finding her way out, and the serendipitous conclusion is surprisingly satisfying.
Click here to read the entire review. 


Monday, August 15, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR August 15-21

Bookish events in Texas for the week of August 15-21, 2016: 

Special Events:
Literary Libations Week (a LitCrawl fundraiser), Austin, Houston, & San Antonio, August 15-18

Writespace Writers Family Reunion, Houston, August 20

Ongoing Exhibits:
Austin
BookPeople, WRITERS' LEAGUE OF TEXAS Presents: BLACK LITERATURE MATTERS: A CONVERSATION ON WRITING AND RACE with Michael Hurd, Varian Johnson, Doyin Oyeniyi, and Jennifer M. Wilks, 7PM

Mr. Catfish & More, NeoSoul Poetry ATX, 8PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Elizabeth Williams discusses and signs LIFT YOUR SPIRITS, 7PM

River Oaks Bookstore, S.R. Atkinson reads and signs Surface Tension (Siren Anthology Book Two), 5PM

Writespace, Spider Road Press Birthday Party & Flash Fiction Awards, 7PM

Friday, August 19:


San Antonio
Burnt Ends, Gemini Ink's Writers in Communities reading + BBQ, 6:30PM

The Twig Book Shop, Jayme Blaschke discusses and signs Inside The Texas Chicken Ranch, 6PM

Saturday, August 20:

Sunday, August 21:
Sugar Land
The Ismaili Jamatkhana and Center, moderated panel discussion: THE WRITING PROCESS: FROM INCUBATION TO PUBLICATION with Bapsi Sidhwa, Rodney Walther, and Ann Weisgarber, + book signing, 2PM

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Review: THE FAR EMPTY by J. Todd Scott

I reviewed The Far Empty (G.P. Putnam's Sons) by veteran DEA agent J. Todd Scott for Lone Star Literary Life. I call this "border noir." From the review:
The Far Empty is a work of fiction, more or less.” 
Fictional Murfee, Texas, is the seat of fictional Big Bend County (“where there’s more blood in the ground than water”), situated on the very real border with Mexico, where desperation and ambition meet avarice, hubris, and drug-fueled insanity. Seventeen-year-old Caleb Ross desperately wants to escape no-account little Murfee, not least because he believes his father is responsible for his mother’s disappearance. Quiet and perceptive, Caleb feels guilty and cowardly because he hasn’t confronted his father, and he’s wound tight from living with a human rattlesnake. 
Caleb’s father is Sheriff Stanford “Judge” Ross, a hard, arrogant, murderous man who rules Big Bend County like a feudal estate. People in his orbit have a habit of disappearing and/or dying. Rookie deputy Chris Cherry is a former high school football star, reluctantly returned to Murfee after a devastating knee injury. When Chris discovers a body on a remote ranch, he and Caleb eventually join forces, and as the Sheriff’s secrets emerge, the whole Walking Tall scenario in Big Bend County begins to disintegrate.
Click here to read the entire review.


Monday, August 8, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR August 8-14

Bookish events in Texas for the week of August 8-14, 2016: 

Special Events:
2016 Author Roundup, Fort Worth, August 13

186TH ANNUAL 2ND TIME EVER CARNIVAL OF BOOKS!, Austin, August 13

Ongoing Exhibits:
Clear Lake
NOKturne, First Monday Reading Series hosted by Dustin Pickering, 8PM

Houston
Brazos Bookstore, Yvonne Georgina Puig reading and signing A WIFE OF NOBLE CHARACTER, 7PM

Tuesday, August 9:
The Korova, PuroSlam with DJ Donnie Dee, 10PM

Wednesday, August 10:
Dallas
Dallas Public Library - Lake Dallas Branch, Bailey and David R. Hardiman will sign Bailey’s Remarkable Plan, 11:45AM

Half Price Books Mothership, New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover will discuss and sign her new novel It Ends With Us, 7PM [PASS REQUIRED]

SMU Bookstore, Kia Carrington-Russell will sign The Three Immortal Blades series, 2PM

Houston

Malvern Books, Novel Night with Marcia Feldt & D. Ellis Phelps, 7PM

Mr. Catfish & More, NeoSoul Poetry ATX, 8PM

Dallas
Dallas Public Library - Central, Susan Wiggs will discuss and sign Family Tree, 6:15PM

Houston

Brazos Bookstore, Erika Jo Brown’s Inprint memoir class student reading, 7PM

North Richland Hills
North Richland Hills Library, Susan Wiggs will discuss and sign Family Tree, 12PM

Southlake
B&N - Town Square, Way of the Reaper: My Greatest Untold Missions and the Art of Being a Sniper book signing with Nicholas Irving, 7PM

Saturday, August 13:
Austin


Denton

El Paso
B&N - Fountains at Farah, Meet and Greet: graphic novelist and artist Raul Gonzalez, 2PM

Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop with Gene Keller: Waiting for a Blue Moon, 12:45PM

Galveston
Galveston Bookshop, E. Barry Gray will sign Greetings from Galveston, 2PM

Houston
Murder By the Book, Diane Vallere will sign and discuss Silk Stalkings, 4:30PM
Writespace, Workshop: Outlining: Simple Plans for Great Stories with Kyle Russell, 1PM

Round Rock
B&N - La Cantera, Pablo De Leon signing Limitless, 1PM

South Padre Island
Paragraphs on Padre, Meet the Author - Patty York Raymond: It's Too Windy!, 1PM

Waco
Enrichment Training & Counseling Solutions, Gritos: On Finding the Sources of Our Voices writing workshop led by ire'ne lara silva, 3PM

Rufi's Cocina, Waco Poets Society presents a reading by ire'ne lara silva, 7PM

Sunday, August 14:

Dallas
Houston


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Review: THE HOPEFULS by Jennifer Close

I reviewed The Hopefuls (Alfred A. Knopf) by Jennifer Close for Lone Star Literary Life! This is a sophisticated, acutely perceptive exploration of the corrosive effects of ambition and jealousy on individuals, a friendship, and two marriages. From the review:
“Never say never. Weird things happen in Texas.” —Colleen
Matt and Beth Kelly are a young married couple in Washington, D.C. Matt, who dressed up as Ronald Reagan as a child and has always known he wanted to run for office, is an ambitious lawyer in the Obama White House, but he’s frustrated that his career isn’t progressing as quickly as he’d like. Beth, a former editorial assistant for Vanity Fair, is a writer for a local website devoted to the trivial and scandalous social lives of the politicos, who feels profoundly dislocated in DC’s “hierarchy of jealousy,” invisible because she doesn’t work in politics. 
Jimmy and Ashleigh Dillon are a young married couple from Texas rising fast through DC’s political ranks. Jimmy is young and charismatic; he golfs with the president, and perks, power, and plums fall into his lap. Ashleigh is a Southern belle whose outgoing personality and beauty-pageant looks are Jimmy’s perfect complement. When the Dillons return to Texas, Jimmy is recruited to run for the Railroad Commission, and he summons Matt to manage his campaign. The Kellys decamp for Sugar Land (“where life is sweet”) to help Jimmy turn Texas blue. 
Close’s simple plot moves steadily, only bogging down briefly during the second third of the book, though this slowing ironically evokes the peripatetic monotony of the campaign. Close’s cast are generally sympathetic, authentically flawed characters, and Beth is a reliable, though disturbingly passive, narrator. Close examines the dynamics of couples and the corruptions of jealousy, as Beth observes Matt’s “Single-White-Female attitude toward Jimmy” and how Ashleigh is subtly different at home in Sugar Land. “I began to think of her as Texas Ash,” Beth says, “sort of like Malibu Barbie—basically the same, but with a few tweaks and extra accessories.”
Go here to read the entire review. Thank you!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Roundup: TEXAS LITERARY CALENDAR August 1-7

Bookish events in Texas for the week of August 1-7, 2016: 

Special Events:
Summer Book Arts Studio, Houston, August 2-5

Friends of the Plano Library Book Sale, August 5-7

The Writer's Garret 21st Birthday Celebration, Dallas, August 5-7

2016 Texas Christian Writers' Conference, Houston, August 6

Ongoing Exhibits:
Austin
Malvern Books, Poetry Karaoke, 7PM

Clear Lake
NOKturne, First Monday Reading Series hosted by Dustin Pickering, 8PM

Houston
University of Houston, Houston Public Library Quarterly Author Series: Meet Elizabeth Nunez, author of Even in Paradise, 6:30PM

Tuesday, August 2:
Angleton
Brazoria County Historical Museum, Roger Wood discusses and signs Texas Zydeco, 6:30PM

Austin
Mr. Catfish & More, NeoSoul Poetry ATX, 8PM

Dallas
The Wild Detectives, Amy Gentry reads and signs Good as Gone (with Merritt Tierce), 7:30PM

Friendswood
Friendswood Public Library‎, Off the Page Poetry presents Anis Shivani and Jonathan Moody, 7PM

Houston
Super Happy Fun Land, Featured poets followed by Odd Thursdays Open Mic hosted by Kyle Blue, 9PM

Friday, August 5:
Amarillo
Chalice Abbey Center for Spirituality and the Arts, Epiphany: What Light Does on Egde poetry reading with Paul Bowers, Steven Schroeder, and Chera Hammons, 6PM

Austin
B&N - Preston/Royal, Skip Hollandsworth signs The Midnight Assassin, 1PM

Deep Vellum Books, Sahr Sankoh reads and signs The Cotton Tree, 1PM

El Paso
Memorial Park Public Library, Tumblewords Project workshop with Celia Aguilar: Musings from La Frontera, 12:45PM

Houston

Houston Public Library - Johnson Branch, Public Poetry reading series features Chris Brunt, Adam Holt, Octavio Quintanilla, and Analicia Sotelo, 2PM


Writespace, Workshop: It's More Than a Place: Crafting Settings That Matter with Joy Preble, 1PM


Recycled Reads, Open Mic Poetry, 3:30PM

Dallas
The Wild Detectives, Beyond Your Backyard Story Night, 7PM

Houston

Friday, July 29, 2016

Review: THE SEASON by Jonah Lisa Dyer & Stephen Dyer

I reviewed The Season (Viking) by Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer for Lone Star Literary Life! Imagine the result if Jane Austen were writing in Dallas in 2016. This is my pick, so far, as the best beach read of this summer. The Season is exactly what you expect it to be - and so much more. From the review:
Spunky Megan McKnight is a twenty-year-old soccer player at Southern Methodist University with dreams of making the Olympic team. The Bluebonnet Club Debutante Season is the very last thing on her mind. Then a story (“an announcement for a virgin auction”) appears in the local paper declaring that Megan and her twin sister Julia are debuting this season, complete with photographs (Megan thinks she looks “like a hick who’d lucked into a makeover coupon”), and Megan realizes that her mother has pulled a fast one. When Megan confronts her mother (“Clearly decades of coloring your hair and chugging SlimFast have taken a toll”), she learns that there is more to her mother’s madness than she knows and she agrees to debut as a favor to her father. 
The Season, the first novel from screenwriters Jonah Lisa Dyer and Stephen Dyer, is a romantic comedy, a modern YA riff on Jane Austen that is my pick, so far, for best beach read this summer. In fact, I didn’t want to put it down and read it in one sitting. The Season is fun, easy reading but it’s not all sweetness and light. The plot is carefully crafted and weaves together several well-developed subplots, including violence against women, financial disaster, and environmental catastrophe. 
Megan’s first-person narrative is breezy and irreverent. When she rips her dress riding a bicycle to debutante orientation, she uses the receptionist’s stapler to close the gap. She frets that her cleavage has been “stunted” by years of sports bras. Megan attends the first party sporting a black eye, courtesy of an opposing goalie, and there meets Hank and Andrew. Is Hank as good as he seems? Is Andrew the total jerk he appears to be?
Go here to read the entire review. Thank you!