The Bookshelf, The Parlor, The Young Texas Reader, and the Monthly

The Texas Bookshelf is different from the The Texas Parlor, . The Texas Parlor carries "general" bookish information and non-book information and even different Texana news and notes of use to the bibliographically challenged and other nosey folks intersted in historical, literary, and cultural observations. Will's Texana Monthly may carry material from either blog, but extends itself beyond those, especially for longer compilations or treatments. The Monthly, the Bookshelf and the Parlor are all companions. So, is the Young Texas Reader which specialized on books and such things for the youngest to the teenagers.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Bumpy Road to Texas - Sutton

The Diboll Free Press  gives short notes on Martha Sutton's new autobiography that began in Canada.
"Bumpy Road To Texas."

Legacy: 50 Years of Loving Care - Parish

Legacy: 50 Years of Loving Care, Texas Children's Hospital, 1954-2004 by Betsy Parish, Elisha Freeman Publishing, May 2008, 762 pages, $45.50
Review by Mark Lardos

State of Texas Children

The Temple Daily Telegram carries new of this report.

Kids Count report  KIDS COUNT Databook Logo

"The Center for Public Policy Priorities on Wednesday released "The State of Texas Children: Texas Kids Count Annual Data Book 2008-09," a resource that provides the latest look at the well-being of children in every county in the state.
This year's data book includes an essay, "Closing the Educational Gaps," revealing factors that can play a pivotal role in a child's academic achievement."
Read more more of the article at

Women of Valor & Tall Horses

Rick Smith brings to our attention two volumes of interest in West Texas
"Women of Valor," by San Angelo native Marilyn Wood Mohler, introduces you to 17 remarkable San Angelo women.
"Tall Horses" poems and illustrations by George Wilks

David M. Schwarz Architects 2002-2007

Texas books highlight a firm that built much of Fort Worth, and a man who added some color to it

New books highlight a firm that helped build up Fort Worth and an artist who added color to it

The review begins
"David M. Schwarz is a hard-working Texas architect, especially considering that his firm is based in Washington, D.C.
His list of recently built structures includes many of the newest civic and entertainment venues in North Texas. Consider: In Fort Worth, David M. Schwarz Architects is credited with the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Sid Richardson Museum, the Bank One Building, Cook Children's Medical Center North Pavilion, and the Tarrant Country Family Law Center. Nearby, the firm designed the Grand Avenue extension of Southlake Town Center and the adjacent Southlake Townhouses, the Firewheel Town Center in Garland, the Parker Square Buildings in Flower Mound, and Frisco Square and Dr Pepper Ballpark in Frisco. All of these were completed between 2002 and 2007. The earlier Schwarz works such as American Airlines Center and the Nancy Lee and Perry R. Bass Performance Hall were covered in the first Schwarz monograph."
Read the full review at

Friday, December 19, 2008

Death Of The River Master (Texana Jones) - Martin

The Paperback Book Swap Book Club offers comments on Allana Martin's new installment of Texana Jones and her mystery-filled times along the border.
Used Book ~ Death Of The River Master (Texana Jones) by author Allana Martin

Unbridled Cowboy and Pirooters

K.K. Searle's "Texas History Page" reviews two volumes.
Joseph Fussell's "Unbridled Cowboy," a delightful autobiography
Mark Mellon's "Pirooters," a novel of Reconstruction
Read Searle at

Night Wolf's Song - Phelps

Night Wolf's SongKevin Tipple reviews E. Floyd Phelps' Night Wolf's Song, a novel of border crossing which includes a "Nahuala" or werewolf like creature near Presidio.

From the Texas Observer blog

found many of the publication's editor's, columnists', and writers' works at the Texas Book Festival.  Some of their Texana books she mentions are:
 Bob MoserBlue Dixie: Awakening the South's Democratic Majority  reviewed here
Robert Bryce  Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of "Energy Independence," here.
Jim Hightower will discuss his new book on real live mavericks, Swim Against the Current: Even A Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow. (forthcoming)
Gary KeithEckhardt: There Once Was a Congressman from Texas, is reviewed in the Observer here.
Joe Nick Patoski  Willie Nelson: An Epic Life
Bud Shrake's Land of the Permanent Wave: An Edwin "Bud" Shrake Reader is reviewed here .
C.E. Hunt's Big Thicket People: Larry Jene Fisher's Photographs of the Last Southern Frontier is reviewed here

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bad Blood - Whittle

Bad Blood: the Secret Life of the Tour de France
By British Author: Jeremy Whittle
Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press (UK)Badblood_medium
A background of the Tour long dominated by Texan Lance Armstrong is reviewed by the "Cafe Bookshelf" at

Perfect Reign of Terror - Burrier

A Perfect Reign of Terror, Insurgency in the Texas Hill Country 1861-1862 by William "Paul" Burrier is reveiwed in the December 18, 2008 West Kerr Current by Irene Van Winkle's article, "Myth, fate clash around Tegener's role in Unionist movement."Comfort resident Fritz Tegener, who owned a sawmill in Hunt, came to Kerr County from Prussia with his brothers, Gustave and William in the 1850s. Rejecting slavery, they became involved in the Union Loyalist League. Gustave was hanged by State  troops, while Fritz survived the Battle of the Nueces in 1862. He also served as Kerr County treasurer, and after divorcing his first wife, Susan Benson, remarried Augusta Strunk.
Van Winkle writes that "Paul said that he is neither revisionist nor anti-Union, but that many accounts by eyewitnesses, historians and family members "have it wrong."

"Their biases are from the Germans' point of view, and some of them had their own agendas," he added."
Fritz Tegener, at right, opposed slavery.
A lengthy article is within

Strong West Wind - Caldwell

Pulitzer Prize winner Gail Caldwell's memoir includes her Texas High Plains upbringing and is reviewed in "On the Bookshelf, #2008-48."  An excellent selection. 

Dromgoole's Picks of 2008

in "Favorite book picks cover culture, people"
 brings forth his annual favorite picks for 2008.
Texas Wildlife Portraits
Shine On: 100 Years of Shiner Beer
Doug Welsh's Texas Garden Almanac
The Pulpwood Queens' Tiara-Wearing, Book-Sharing Guide to Life
Twentieth-Century Texas: A Social and Cultural History
The Illustrated Alamo 1836: A Photographic Journey
Many a River
Great Houses of Texas
The History of Texas Music
Texas Aesop's Fables
and TCU Press' Small Books series
Click Glenn's article  for a good reading guide

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Lookin' Back Texas - Leanna Ellis

reviews Leanna Ellis' Lookin' Back Texas, a Christian romance.  Mama begins, "I am not a big reader of Christian fiction until very recently (and I still haven't read very many), so I'm probably not the best judge of the Christian aspect of this novel; however, I can review it as a women's fiction book (which, by the way, is how Ms. Ellis describes it on her website.) Based on the story and the humor, I felt that this book does have a lot to offer."

Friday, August 29, 2008

Texas Historical and Literary Blogs

Hot off the electric press, as the August issue of "Will's Texana Monthly: Reviews, News and Electric Observations," is "Texas Historical and Literary Blogs," an annotated, illustrated, and categorized list of over 100 blogs "about" Texas. 
The email attachment is illustrated and available free upon request. 
The non-illustrated version is posted at TEXAS BLOG NOTES,
The categories include


Will's History, Literature, and Reference Blogs -

Architectural Preservation & Appreciation -

Book Agents, Editors, Publicists, Consultants, and Their Ilk -

Book Reading Clubs & Book Companions -

Book Reviews & News -

Classroom Experiments -

Commercial Expressions -

Culturally Convergent with Historical or Literary Interests -

Historical Interests & Projects -

Historical Museums, Libraries, & Archives -

Historical Organizations -

History via Newspaper Blogs -

Literate Writers -

Literate Naturalists -

Literary Organizations -

Oozing Toward Politics -

Blog Cousins, The Fort Worth Museum Anomalies -

Favorites, Bookmarks, and Subscriptions to Feeds -

Starting a Blog -

Bordertown - Jeff Gusky, Ben Johnson

The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture will sponsor BORDERTOWN on Tuesday October 7.  Their description begins below:



Dr. Jeffrey Gusky and Dr. Ben Johnson

Dallas photographer Dr. Jeff Gusky and SMU historian Dr. Ben Johnson have just published through Yale University Press a new book that gives us a radically different way of viewing the U.S.-Mexico border, a region all too often the subject of thoroughly negative stereotypes.  In Bordertown: The Odyssey of an American Place, the authors focus on the small town of Roma, Texas, as an encompassing narrative about how the border has shaped and been shaped by American life.  Through Gusky's captivating black-and-white photographs and Johnson's accompanying text with its engaging personal accounts, Bordertown expresses the immediacy of the region and at the same time captures a powerful sense of the place as a microcosm of the American experience--Roma, Texas, as both distinct and familiar."     READMOREAT

History of Texas Music - Hartman

The Texas Observer offers a lengthy review:

And the Beats Go On

Michael Hoinski | August 22, 2008 | Books & the Culture - It begins:

"Music has proved a wand of empowerment for the vast array of Texans who have wielded it. The state's native inhabitants ramped up their tribal music in part to free themselves from the incoming Spanish settlers. Later, Mexicans played conjunto to unburden themselves of the white man, while blacks played the blues as a way to loosen those same chains. Even the whites played music to free themselves—from their history, expectations self-imposed and otherwise, and in some cases their homelands.

This between-the-lines conclusion—that music enables transcendence—grows out of Hartman's thesis: that Texas' ethnic diversity has engendered a musical cross-pollination that forms the backbone of American music."
Hoinski also refers to "Rick Koster's Texas Music for a more colorful take and The Handbook of Texas Music, compiled by multiple editors"

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail - Ted Eubanks, Bob Behrstock, and Seth Davidson

Book Review by Ro Wauer

[Review begins] "Finding Birds on the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail is a very different kind of bird-finding book. My wife, Betty, who is not a serious birder, was impressed with the colorful, eye-catching page design. She found the scattered historical facts an interesting addition to a nature book. We think this is a book that would make a great Christmas present. The key purpose of the book, of course, for finding birds, is also very worthwhile. It not only includes all of the best ingredients of such a bird guide but also includes numerous highlights about wildlife other than just birds."  READ MORE FROM the Nature Writers of Texas at the August 27 posting

Supreme Courtship - Christopher Buckley

The New York Times reports
A Texas Babe to Join the Brethren (Any Dissenting Opinions?)
By JANET MASLIN  Published: August 24, 2008
[Review begins] "Christopher Buckley's usual weapon of choice is a rapier, not a blunt instrument. But he usually writes satirically, while his new book is a broad farce. An anomalously funny thing happened to Mr. Buckley on his way to the "Supreme Courtship": nothing funny occurred to him. This is that rare occasion when Washington's wickedest wit takes aim at a humor-squelching comedic target."
It's a novel from the William F. Buckley clan that once sported a Texas sheriff in the clan.

Pastry Queen Christmas - Rebecca Rather with Alison Oresman

The Blogger News Network reports:

Book Review: The Pastry Queen Christmas: Big-Hearted Holiday Entertaining Texas Style

Posted on August 24th, 2008
Read 261 times.
[It begins] "Fredericksburg, Texas area resident Rebecca Rather, owner of the "Sweet Bakery and Cafe" since 1999 has created a very good holiday book full of Texas color and recipes. After an acknowledgment that thanks her customers as well as many others who helped in some way with her writing career, and an introduction that gives personal background, it is time for the recipes.
Chapter One "Holiday Open House" starts with "Old-Fashioned Eggnog." Be warned, this isn't the kind of eggnog one buys in the grocery stores these days."

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Mexican Enough - Stephanie Griest

Texas Public Radio's "Texas Matters" August 15 show includes a segment on Stephanie Elizondo Griest's latest book Mexican Enough.  Give a listen.

Houston Homicide - Bill Crider, Clyde Wilson

Houston Homicide by Bill Crider and Clyde Wilson

Posted on August 21st, 2008  by Kevin Tipple 
Review begins:  "Detective Sergeant Ted Stephens isn't bothered by the heat and humidity of Houston, Texas in the summer of 1969. Known to one and all as "Steve" he is bothered that his Lieutenant is shoving him onto a case assigned to other detectives. Lieutenant Bolce has his reasons and knowing the fact that Detective Wetsel is on the case explains at least part of it. Wetsel isn't one of the best in the Houston Police Department though he thinks he is the greatest thing since sliced bread."  READ MORE AT

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mexican Enough - Stephanie Griest

 'First Stop in the New World' by David Lida and 'Mexican Enough' by Stephanie Elizondo Griest: Fresh takes on an old country Sunday, August 17, 2008 By EDWARD NAWOTKA, a freelance writer in Houston.
Extract from Nawotka, "
In Mexican Enough, Stephanie Elizondo Griest describes how on Dec. 30, 2004, she, too, moved to Mexico, motivated by a need to resolve her conflicted feelings about her mixed ethnicity (her mother is Mexican, her father is from Kansas). A Corpus Christi native who rarely visited Mexico, Ms. Griest's goal is to learn Spanish and "Mexicanize" herself." ... READ MORE AT 

Outrageous Texans - Mona Sizer

Glenn Dromgoole files a review in the Beaumont Enterprise

What Would Kinky Do?  By Glenn Dromgoole   August, 16, 2008

[He begins]  "Texas is not lacking for colorful characters - and author Mona Sizer has captured some of the most vivid in her new book, "Outrageous Texans," (Taylor Trade Publishing, $16.95 paperback).
Like these:
-- Janis Joplin, the Port Arthur singer.
-- Racehorse Haynes, the Houston defense lawyer.
-- Stanley Marsh III, the eccentric (odd but rich) Amarillo billionaire.
-- Texas Guinan, the exotic dancer who became a movie star during Prohibition.
-- Kinky Friedman, singer, author and political candidate." ....  READ MORE AT

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Leather Maiden - Joe Lansdale

 'Leather Maiden' by Joe R. Lansdale: Iraq war vet comes home to a missing person's case
Sunday, August 17, 2008  Review By TOM DODGE / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News - NPR commentator Tom Dodge, www.tomdodge, lives in Midlothian.
[The review begins] "Joe R. Lansdale's books can be hard-boiled, but this one is cracked at the shell. It's entertaining enough, being a naturalistic snapshot of small-town America. We can thank its narrator for that. It's always entertaining to hear the views of an alcoholic, sex-addicted, obsessive-compulsive misfit."  [Another extract is] "Booger is maniacally happy, amoral but ethical. When he kills people he cleans up afterward. But despite his ethics and neatness he's a psychopath, and Cason, being only neurotic and unstable, still believes in the Land of the Happy Neighborhoods. In fact, driving down the highway, he sees his East Texas hometown of Camp Rapture appearing in the mist as the Emerald City."   READ MORE from the Moaning News at

Saturday, August 16, 2008

SHQ Book Reviews Jan 2008

Southwestern Historical Quarterly Book Reviews of January 2008 
Following the Royal Road:  A Guide to the Historic Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, by Hal Jackson. Rev. by Rick Hendricks, SHQ Jan 2008 p344-5
El gran Norte de Mexico:  Una frontera imperial en la Nueva Espana, by Alredo Jimenez. Rev by Joanquin Rivaya-Martinez, SHQ Jan 2008 p345-6.
Cherokee Nation in the Civil War, by Clarissa Confer.  Rev by Andrew Frank, SHQ Jan 2008 p348-9.
Rise and Fall of the Confederacy:  The Memoir of Senator Williamson S. Oldham, ed. by Clayton Jewett. Rev by Antonio Thompson, SHQ Jan 2008 p349-51.
Dance of Freedom:  Texas African Americans during Reconstruction, by Barry Crouch. Rev by Rebecca Kosary, SHQ Jan 2008 p351-2
Getting Away With Murder, by Bill Neal. Rev by David Reichard SHQ Jan 2008 p354-5
Lone Star Lawmen: The Second Century of the Texas Rangers, by Robert Utley, Rev by Stephen Moore, SHQ Jan 2008 p357-8.
Cowboy:  Juan Salinas, Rodeo Roper and Horseman by Ricardo Palacios. Rev by Thomas Britten, SHQ Jan 2008 p358-9
River Walk:  The Epic Story of San Antonio's River, by Lewis Fisher, Rev. by Tim Dravies, SHQ Jan 2008 p359-60.
Ross Sterling, A Memoir by the Founder of the Humble Oil and Refining Company, ed by Don Carleton, Rev by George Green, SHQ Jan 2008 p360-1.
Barn Burning Barn Burning:  Lesson of Lone Star Politics that Can Improve Our Country's Future, by Ben Barnes.  Rev by James Cousar, SHQ Jan 2008 p362-3.
Mestizo in America:  Generations of Mexican Ethnicity in the Suburban Southwest, by Thomas Macias.  Rev by Roberto Calderon, SHQ Jan 2008 p363-4.
Legacy:  Fifty Years of Loving Care, Texas Children's Hospital, By Betsy Parish, Rev by Watson Arnold, SHQ Jan 2008 p365-6.
Jim Bowie, by Robert Hollman, Rev by James Crisp, SHQ Jan 2008 p366-7
Juan Seguin, by Robert Hollman, Rev by James Crisp, SHQ Jan 2008 p366-7.

Will Howard 12618 Ashcroft, Houston Tx 77035 Cell:832-633-0595 Home:713-728-1981
Publisher, Wills Texana Monthly, subscribe at
Host, Texas Parlor, a blog at
Host, Texas Bookshelf, a blog at
Host, Young Texas Reader, a blog at
Who is Will Howard?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Your Blogger Blathering Bibliographically

ED BLACKBURN at TEXANA REVIEW, a podcasting blog of note, cornered me a couple of times over the last year regarding "Just what are you doing?"  Ed's from the "Blackburns of Houston," a family known for their Texas publications (his dad, Ed, Sr., recently went to jail, err, actually went to many jails across Texas to collect information on his book about jails of Texas), and his mother Sadie, well, Sadie, keeps most of us in line. 
Anyway, Ed found me with his an inquiring mind and a tape recorder in hand, first at the Buffalo Grill and then at St. Paul's UMC.  He said he reduced our two hours to 20 minutes, a testament to his editorial dedication and skills.  If what I say makes sense, it's because of Ed's editing. Listen to Ed and me at:
"Will Howard: becoming a less well-kept secret on Texana"

Monday, August 11, 2008

Lisa Wingate, Christian novelist - Interview

Area novelist to sign new books   Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen
By Carl Hoover, Tribune-Herald entertainment editor
Article begins:  "Clifton novelist Lisa Wingate and her husband Sam only have two sons, but she's responsible for creating dozens of new lives in Texas in her 10 books.
She's added some more this year with the publication of two new books, Talk of the Town and A Month of Summer, one released by the Christian publisher Bethany House, the other by Penguin Group's NAL Accent.
Talk introduces readers to Mandalay Florentino, the harried television producer of "American Megastar," who's stuck in small-town Daily, Texas, while organizing a hometown concert for finalist Amber Anderson. There's also 60-something Imogene Doll, a Daily cafe waitress and daughter of the town's former mayor.
Wingate's more-serious A Month of Summer adds troubled Los Angeles attorney Rebecca Macklin, who flies in to Dallas to care for her father with Alzheimer's disease and mentally retarded stepbrother, and Hanna Beth Parker, Rebecca's estranged stepmother, whose mind remains active though a stroke has left her speechless in a nursing home...."  READ MORE FROM the Waco Tribune at

John H. Manford - Interview

"A Conversation With John H. Manfold Author of El Tigre: The Life and Times of El Tigre Viejo" - an interview from the American Chronicle begins:

"John is a retired professor and scientific journal editor. He is the author of several textbooks, a lexicon in four languages and now novels that often require extensive research. He provides coaching on various types and phases of writing. He is active in Cowboy Action Shooting and Cowboy Fast Draw. 
Good day John and thanks for participating in our interview.
John:  I thank you, and am most pleased to have the opportunity to do so.
Norm:  When did you first consider yourself a writer?
John: I really am not sure I ever have stopped to think about it. I realize that today there seems to be a great concentration on fitting a person into a specific niche, and there is an almost frightening desire to attain the status of ´a published author´. This is fine, as long as it is enjoyable, and one is aware of the work that follows in marketing the product. But to answer the question, I go back a long way to when there still was belief in the Renaissance way of life. Writing was something that was part of my lecturing, researching and consulting. I enjoyed, and ´just did it´.  
Norm:  What do you see as the influences on your writing? 
John: I love action, sports, and history. ....."  READ MORE AT

U.S. Mexico Border - David Danelo

The U.S. Mexico Border: A walk on the wild sides

Aug 7th 2008  A review from The Economist print edition
[The reveiw begins] "IT IS hard not to like David Danelo, a marine turned journalist and author. In the three months he spends travelling the length of America's southern border, from the Gulf of Mexico in the east to the shores of California in the west, he displays a pleasing concern for almost everyone except politicians and drug pushers.
As a former military man, Mr Danelo understands the hard-pressed officers of the Border Patrol, but he sympathises also with ordinary Mexicans lured to America by the dream of prosperity. To him, illegal immigrants are often nothing more than brave pioneers in search of a better life. He understands too the anguish of Americans who feel swamped by a rising tide of narcotics-fuelled violence. Nothing is easy about immigration, or borders."  READ MORE ABOUT IT 
Author David Danelo is from Austin. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Rivers of Way - Eric Flint

Trooper York identifies as the principal in an alternative history, 1812 The Rivers of Way by Eric Flint.  It covers Sam Houston, Andrew Jackson and the Cherokee nation at the time of the Trail of Tears.  Follow-up volume is 1824 The Arkansas War.

Will Howard 12618 Ashcroft, Houston Tx 77035 Cell:832-633-0595 Home:713-728-1981
Publisher, Wills Texana Monthly, subscribe at
Host, Texas Parlor, a blog at
Host, Texas Bookshelf, a blog at
Host, Young Texas Reader, a blog at
Who is Will Howard?

Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation - John Santos

Caravana de recuerdos- ROMANCE STUDIES & FILM•ESTUDIOS ROMÁNICOS Y EL CINE - leaves a review of John Philip Santos' intriguing volume, a National Book Award winner with a Texas connection.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Bounty Hunter - Dan Price

OUR TRIBUNE reviews a Western volume:
Monday, August 04, 2008  by Stephanie Meza
"Writing is a hobby for Dan Price, and "Bounty Hunter" will be his first published book. This fiction novel is set in the 1800s and will appeal to anyone, young or old, who loves westerns.
Expect to go back to the American Old West with this read, where Bounty Hunter Dan Jennings gets in a tangle with outlaws, Indians, and romance. Dan has a knack for rounding up wanted outlaws, but his pursuit of a killer named Blake Monroe leads him to the ultimate test. Sure, Dan has high hopes after meeting Jennifer Blackburn, a rancher's daughter, but little does he know what lies further along his journey. He suffers at the hands of Apache Indians in order to prove his courage to not only the tribe, but to White Feather, whose bond with Dan creates a love conflict."  READ MORE AT

Decades of Caring

Fort Worth Star Telegram review:

UT-Arlington students write book about Moncrief

"They like Mike.w
The folks behind Decades of Caring: A Chronicle of the Political Life of Mike Moncrief, that is.
"I'm a cynical little man," said Allan Saxe, an associate professor of political science at the University of Texas at Arlington who supervised the student project, "but if I see someone who's nice and kind, I just melt."
Eight undergraduates spent the spring semester researching and writing the book on Moncrief's career as a state representative, Tarrant County judge, state senator and current Fort Worth mayor. The book will be about 85 pages long and cost about $32. It is slated for publication in September."  READ MORE AT

Moon Pies and Movie Stars -

The Monsters and Critics fiction section reviews Moon Pies and Movie Stars:  It begins:  "A feisty Texas momma takes on Hollywood in this "funny and engaging" debut novel Ruby Kincaid has her hands full running her bowling alley, wrangling her pistol of a sister Loralva, and chasing after two grandchildren abandoned by her daughter Violet. When she sees Violet in a TV commercial, Ruby vows: it's Hollywood or bust"and packs up the Winnebago to fetch her wayward daughter. Along for the ...  "  more

The Bottoms - Joe Landsdale

"Adolescent Literature" reviews Joe Lansdale's The Bottoms
The review begins: "Joe Lansdale's novel The Bottoms is presented as a reflection of an elderly retired sheriff on the heinous murders that occurred in his town as a child. The story follows the exploits of a 12 year old Harry and his little sister Tom as they try to unravel these gruesome murders and make sense of the raging race violence in a small east Texas town. The story begins with Harry and Tom finding a dead body of naked black woman tied to the tree in woods by their house." READ MORE AT

Mary Connealy - Interview

From the "Christian Writer's World" we learn that
Mary is [t]here to promote her second book in the Lasooed in Texas series.
The interview begins
"Welcome, Mary. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I wrote for a long time before I got published, Lena. I wrote in many genres and had a lot of fun doing it. Petticoat Ranch is just the one that finally hit. So I'm thrilled to keep writing in that genre. I really love the voice of westerns. I love having my hero kick the dust and adjust his Stetson and say, "I reckon." 
But Barbour, bless them, wants the historical romantic comedy series, but they've also let me write for their cozy mystery line and Heartsong Presents, which I'm doing a contemporary three book series for. So I'm getting to write in those different styles and I love it."

Orphan - Harry Haines

Review in "Mystery Books" begins
"Orphan by
Non-series  Mayhaven Publishing (Hardcover)  ISBN-10: 1-932278-56-7 (1932278567)
ISBN-13: 978-1-932278-56-9 (9781932278567)  Publication Date: June 2008  List Price: $26.95
Synopsis (from the publisher): In a horrific vehicular accident twenty miles west of Amarillo, Texas, veterinarian James Robert Masterson steps out into the night to find the sole survivor is a very young colt. As there is no one to take charge of the frightened animal, Masterson agrees to take him home to his ranch in Bushland, Texas. He and his wife tend "Orphan," never dreaming he will play a significant role in their daughter's life—and in theirs."

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Life in Texas - Dolph Briscoe & Don Carleton

BOOK REVIEW from Austin Statesman

Dolph Briscoe's 'My Life in Texas Ranching and Politics': memorable memoir

The former governor's memoir is full of good stories about his years in office, but it's the tales of his days working the land that really shine


[The review begins:}  "If you puzzle over what makes Texas tick, read this quietly appealing book by a pioneering southwest Texas rancher who served as the state's governor from 1973 to 1979.
In 1999, historian Don Carleton began lengthy oral interviews with former Gov. Dolph Briscoe. Their collaboration continued until last year. Briscoe was not dealing with a novice. Carleton, executive director of the American History Center at the University of Texas, previously collaborated on books with Walter Cronkite and Waco entrepreneur Bernard Rapoport.
Briscoe's recollections of his years as governor are insightful. Yet the political tales of a conservative Democrat now out of office 30 years aren't nearly as rich as his accounts of eight years as a young, progressive Texas House member, and working as a Uvalde rancher who gathered up tens of thousands of acres of ranch land and fought to kill off the horrible screwworm.
Many colorful political figures walk the pages of this book, and Briscoe is tough on some, especially President Jimmy Carter and former House Speaker Price Daniel Jr. But he is at heart a gentleman, and if you like rancorous political biography out to settle scores, this book is not for you."  .... READ MORE AT

Antique Maps of Fort Worth, 1849-1950 - Pete Charlton

A review from Michael Price's Fort Worth Business Press' column, Lone Star Library:  A digital treasure-trove of antique Texas maps

Antique Maps of Texas, Vol.  2: Antique Maps of Fort Worth 1849–1950, compiled by Pete Charlton (Electric Books; $20)
Pete Charlton's Electric Books dates from 1997 as a Fort Worth-based publisher of a well-received collection of antique maps of Texas, Indian Territory and the Southwest in general. Charlton's best-of-both-worlds fusion of antiquity and digital modernity allows the compact packaging of such documents in CD-ROM editions — in addition to large-scale prints reproducing such maps.
The newly issued Antique Maps of Texas, Vol. 2: Antique Maps of Fort Worth 1849-1950 serves to launch a series of CD-ROM editions that will focus on specific groups of maps and views."....  READ MORE OF THE REVIEW AT

Dallas Citizens Council - Darwin Payne

 Book review in Dallas Morning News

Author doesn't throw book at Dallas Citizens Council

09:47 PM CDT on Tuesday, July 29, 2008
{Review begins}  The Dallas Citizens Council still holds considerable sway.
Dallas Citizens CouncilIt's just more open about it.
But few folks know how the organization, once a clandestine club of elite businessmen who got things done, evolved from an "oligarchy" of white businessmen to a diverse cabal of nearly 200 chieftains.
In his new book – Dallas Citizens Council: An Obligation of Leadership – Darwin Payne ushers us behind the curtains, letting readers see how the gears have been turning for 70 years and counting.
Let's be clear. This isn't a titillating, tell-all tale of an organization long given credit and blame for transforming Dallas into the city it is today, for better or worse. (Make that for better and worse.)"
Ragland, the reviewer also one of Payne's several other books, Big D: Triumphs and Troubles of an American Supercity in the 20th Century.

Midian, Marshall, and Me - Jerome Davis

Book review excerpt from News Messenger:
Marshall native to speak about book during two events
Listen to this article or download audio file.Click-2-Listen

Monday, July 28, 2008
"Former broadcaster, public relations official and media relations director turned author, Jerome Davis, will return to Marshall Thursday for two appearances.
He will first address the Marshall Rotary Club at its noon luncheon while capping off the day as a guest of Friends of a Library where he will appear at a book signing while also visiting with the public. The event is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Gold Room of the Marshall Public Library.
"Midian, Marshall & Me," a historical novel released in March, is the title of Davis' first work that is described on the Web site, the book's publisher, as "a book (that) relates the history of Marshall, Texas, its role in the nation's civil rights movement, and the survival of a friendship between a white boy and a black boy during the turbulent years after Brown vs. Board of Education."
"I grew up not understanding why people thought the way they thought," Davis said ...."

Seattle Disapproves of "Greater Tuna"

'Greater Tuna' needs fewer snide asides, more love

A Seattle Post - Intelligencer reveiws begins thusly:
"When Joe Sears and Jaston Williams first brought the pan-fried residents of fictional Tuna to the stage, it was considered an amusing portrayal of a picaresque small Texas town. In hindsight, it was a warning.
Coming from Austin, an island of political blue in the state, they knew quite well the people they originated in gender-bending, quick-change style. In Tuna, the Lions Club is too liberal, and a school essay titled "Human Rights: Why Bother?" wins first prize. This is a town where the BBB ("Better Baptists Bureau") fills a committee to "snatch books off the shelves of high school libraries to protect the minds of the children," and believes youth violence is caused by "working parents who put their kids into day care." "
It runs at the
PLAYWRIGHTS: Joe Sears, wJaston Williams and Ed Howard may survive.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Linda Francis Lee - Interview

Dresses, Debutantes and Designer Shoes: Alumna Pens a Name for Texas Tech :  Author Linda Francis Lee recalls her West Texas roots in latest novels.  -  Written by Kristina Butler - it begins

Alumna Linda Francis Lee is the author of 19 novels. Her book "The Devil in the Junior League" has been optioned as a movie, starring Jennifer Garner. Photo courtesy Linda Francis Lee.
"For author and Texas Tech alumna Linda Francis Lee, letting her roots show doesn't mean an emergency appointment with the hairdresser.
Born in El Paso, Lee's family history is steeped in West Texas tradition. Her heritage and knowledge of Texas high society is evident in her latest round of books, "The Devil in the Junior League" and "The Ex-Debutante," which feature an elite, pearl-wearing crowd of sophisticates who are members of the fictitious Junior League of Willow Creek.
"Most of my books have come out of the fact that I am a Texan," she said. "When you are born and raised in Texas, you are always a Texan." "

Lenora Worth - Interview

Lena Dooley interviews Lenora Worth, a Christian writer, who discusses her role in the book series "Homecoming Heroes" set in a fictional town near Austin and Worth's book Lone Star Secret within the series.
READ MORE OF THE Lena Dooley's article at

Texas Heir - Linda Warren

A reviews at Cat Romance
"Once again award winning author Linda Warren grabs her readers' attention with another must read, TEXAS HEIR.
Cari Michaels worked her way up to the vice presidency of Dalton's Department Stores, a family owned business. She also had her eye on the CEO of Dalton's, Reed Preston. But her dream of a future together evaporates the day Preston announces his engagement to another woman. Cari is resolved to work harder and forget her illusive pipe dream."  READ MORE at the link
About the Book:
Genre: contemporary
ISBN: 978-0373752300
Price: $4.99 Reviewer: Donna
SensualityRating: Sensuous
Star Rating: 5 Stars
Author's Website:

Historic Texas Book of Days - Yvonne Bruce

Historic Texas Book of Days. By Yvonne Bruce and Ann Bruce Henaff.  Albany, Texas: Bright Sky Press, 2008.  Hardback, ISBN 978-1-931721-96-7
squarishly 6-3/4 x 6-3/4, 128 pp. 150 watercolor illustrations  $19.95
Bruce, the retired librarian and font of Texas life, and Henaff, the artist, present you with a very pleasant volume to ease and encourage your days.  This calendar book, a week to a page-spread, is applicable to any year.  The visual experience washes your eyes gently with its soft watercolors and line drawings colored in earth tones.  The months are color-toned, blue January, brown August, and so.  Most illustrations and complementary text derive from domestic, gardening, and rural life.  Occasional quotations peek forth like early periwinkles.  Botanica scatter through the pages, pecans, wildflowers, sugar cane, cotton, magnolias, and fields of farm greenery. 
Period architecture and domestic decoration complete the scenes.  But the authors must have summered along the coast, as evidenced by their July quartet of lighthouses, handful of seashells, and school of saltwater fish.
Basic early recipes and gardening tips add enhance the tome's social life and customs historic theme.  In fact, planting advice from the 1879 Burke's Texas Almanac and Immigrant's Handbook appears regularly.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Unbridled Cowboy - Joseph Fussell

 Unbridled Cowboy. By Joseph B. Fussell, edited by E.R. Fussell. Kirksville, Mo: Truman State University Press, 2008 Paperback Price:$19.95 ISBN:9781931112772
Joe, almost 80 when he died, lived a life fuller than most can image. Joe's astounding record, he tells you, is mostly true, and he'll let you know otherwise. Joe did not admire school and home chores despite a good family around Tyler and Kerens. Leaving his East Texas home as a teenager, Joe tromped Texas, the Plains, the mountains, the Southwest, California, and Mexico, got jobs, cowboyed, railroaded, worked livery, farmed, hoboed, got into scrapes, dipped on the other side of the law at times, sought revenge, went as an undercover Ranger once, chased an occasional woman, got himself further civilized and educated, and, yes, finally got himself a family, living a fairly quite and proper life.
At one point, he relates "I waged a one-man war just as I have related it here…. I offer no apologies to anyone for what I did and I'm not trying to ease my conscience. I was reared in an environment where men settled their differences man-to-man, without the aid of so-called constituted law."
His descriptions of violence and law-breaking (his and others) are not salacious, but more matter
of fact. Unbridled Cowboy is a delightful, rambunctious read, a sort of memoir, but, well, sometimes, life is a kick in the pants. A great story, invitingly written, and genuine as morning served with coffee at a gingham tablecloth. E.R. edited "Gramps" autobiography for us, and that joy should be visited on anybody wishing a touch of warmth and compassion. You can learn much from the narrative, but buy it because it's a wonderful read.

A Few Good Horses - Pierce Burns

A Few Good Horses, by Pierce Burns. Austin: Gap Creek Press (12109 Shetland Chase, 78727), 2008. Well designed back hardback and excellent cover. ISBN 9780615164892. $24.95, 174 pp. Notes, index, many  photos.
Burns, who now lives in Austin and visits the ranch, offers more than a few good chapters on his family's heritage through smooth, readable prose, and the reader's sense of being there pervade the social life and customs of many folks, not just those in about Brown County and the Hill Country.
Although the recounting reaches back to the 1840's and forward to the 1940's, the best
and main focus is his life during the Teens, Twenties and Depression. He begins the tome as a
five-year-old boy, Christmas 1939, in the presence of "heroes, giants, and saints" at his
grandfather's knee. And there're blue northers, a secret marriage ("We gotta tell Daddy we're
married. We can't go on like this"), careful food calculating (people and livestock), circuses in
Brownwood, swimming in the mountain creek, the school bus incident, Sunday Best, building
the fence ("Needs to go another six inches"), and Papa and Uncle Billy's building of the ranch
and distant expeditions despite hard times. It was a time of Tall women, going about birthing,
clothing, rounding up cattle and sheep. By the way, they did find the lump of silver left after the
grandparents' house burned.
The chapter, "Killing Hogs and Canning Food," takes me back to my father's killing
chickens and my mother's preserving figs. The grace and precision of the descriptions there, and
throughout the volume, suggest the author's keen memory and technical bend (he holds patents).
And the volume is patently good. It touches the heart, mind, and a documentary
testament to real life.
Get Mike Cox's opinion at

Telephone Road - Burton Chapman

Telephone Road, Texas: A History and Guide to Telephone Road and
Southeast Houston. By Burton Chapman. Friendswood: Baxter Press, 2007.
Paperback, 157 pages, many black and white photos. $15.95 ISBN 978-1-
Chapman's born and educated in Houston, but he's drifted south to Pearland which is at the south end of Telephone Road.
For those unaware of the world's major travelways, Telephone Road roughly parallels Houston's Gulf Freeway for a few miles both north and south of the 610 South Loop. Folks living there go way back, even to the sparse ranching days of the 1800's. 
Chapman's chapters suggest some of the major widely-known landmarks: Christy Brothers
Circus, Hobby Airport, Gulfgate Mall, and the Manned Spacecraft Center. Some now fading
from memory (but less so with this book) are the Sam Allen Ranch, Galveston-Houston
Interurban, Christy Brothers Circus, and the Golfcrest Country Club, etc.
From these and other chapters, Chapman selects for is final 11th chapter 20 "Interesting Places."
Yes, he's got the Orange Show, Tel-Wink Grill, the Typewriter and Adding Machine Exchange,
the Ukranian Orthodox Monastery of the Four Evangelists, and a good eatery Loma Linda's
Mexican Restaurant.
He does more than point and identify, he gives history. For example, the Santa Rosa Theater
once was THE place to go, really a classy, family place, and then it declined until its screen
displayed flailing body parts in unclassy settings. It fell to demolition.
But thanks to Chapman, Telehphone Road lives and remembers.

Free Texas - Tab Lloyd

2Free Texas: Free Things to See and Do in the Lone Star State. By Tab Lloyd. Xavier Publishing House, 2008. Paperback, 268 pages, $24.95. ISBN: 978-0-9790-
2272-2 268 pg
Tab Lloyd spent considerable time and, even more importantly, thought to what to include. There are over 120 places identified here in several categories – churches, famous people, trade, art, beer and wine, farms and gardens, outside, military, historical places, historical museums, and, of course, unique places. Each gets a page that begins with contact and website. Whether by advertence or inadvertence, she's selected good places, some of which you've not heard of but will appeal to your very heart.
For instance, out in Lubbock there's the Breedlove Dehydrated Foods plant. Hold on, just listen a minute. Well, it is the biggest dehydration plant in the world, Tab tells us, and, and this part I really like, "Breedlove gives their food away," and Guinness recognizes them as largest food charity bank in the world.  Tab also takes you to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in Fort Worth, where they do not give the green stuff away. But in Dallas at the Mary Kay Museum you can see all the pink you desire, and maybe get beautiful and rich at the same time. Then head south to Corpus Christi for the Texas Surf Museum; no it's not old surf, it old surfing artifacts and photos. But it would take a lotta surf to fill up Odessa's Meteor Crater found in 1892 (did they fall in?) and said to be the 2nd largest meteor crater in the U.S. at 550' across.  One day I've got to go to the First State Bank of Uvalde; it's all decorated up by Janey Briscoe just about any way she wanted; that being before she decorated the Governor's Mansion. I have been to the Edison Museum in Beaumont – rather nice too, thanks, Tab, for the memory. Lastly, I've also seen the modified English gothic architecture of St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Houston. As a matter, a few year's back I used to quietly slip into the back of the sanctuary on Wednesday nights after work to listen to the organist practice while the soaring walls were barely visible in the darkness. And it was free.

Texas Curiosities - John Kelso

 Texas Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff, 3rd ed. By John Kelson.  Guilford, Conn.: Insiders Guide / Globe Pequot Press, 2007. pbk ____ pages ISBN 0-7627-4109-0 $13.95
The Austin Statesman humor columnist, John Kelso is an oddball specialist and he holds forth on
odd-to-pleasant special things across the state's eight regions. Learn about Dallas' Cow
Goddess, Beaumont's Big Bopper, Eldorado's polygamy, Groom's 2nd tallest cross in the
Western Hemisphere, and Houston's Funeral Museum. Ponder the connections in Kelsoland.
As a gesture to normalcy, Kelso adds sidebars of history to the 200 important things.

Harvest of Tears - Betty Smith

Harvest of Tears
Harvest of Tears, 2nd edition. Betty Pelley Smith. Denton: Zone Press, 2007. Paperback, 399 pages. ISBN 0-9777558-5-1 $18.95
Betty Pelly Smith was born in the Sherman, Texas of 1924 and subsequently lived across the nation. Two decades ago she returned to Sherman. The childhood she would like to recall would be almost
idyllic. She had kind and loving parents, watchful neighbors, a supportive faith family.
But, the social pestilence of the Depression visited the community and over-stayed its welcome.
As jobs vanished, the stark twins of reality and fear ate rough spots on the veneer of civilization.
Some folks got desperate. A deeper poison seeps to the surface. That racism scarred her soul
that happened to be sheathed in a white skin. Smith writes, "I was 5 years old when I saw the
Sherman courthouse burn and saw a body hanging from a tree. In my 5-year-old mind, I
remember thinking, I thought he was black. All I see is white, as only white bones were hanging
there. I was haunted all my life by this sight. I could not understand how anyone could do such a
horrible thing." The legacy of the Sherman Race Riots flickered more oft than it should have in
Smith's long life.
Her fictionalized account of other such days lures the reader onward as the naïve, little girl's
eyewitness account describes her experiences. In the story, Elizabeth, the substitute for Betty's
emotions, personally faces the physical violence meted out to the designated scapegoats. As for
the plot, Elizabeth's family cares for the children, while Elizabeth's African American friend, Sam, becomes the target of Sam, the malevolent bully.  Challenging to adults but could be introduced to mature teenagers.

Elvis Takes a Back Seat - Leanna Ellis

Elvis Takes a Back Seat. By Leanna Ellis (aka Leanna Wilson).
Nashville: B&H Pub. Group, 2008. 314 pages, pbk, $14.99.
Ellis' work is a Christian woman's fictional adventure. The back cover blurb
plainly states, "Leanna Ellis has sold more than one million books …." The
setting is around Dallas. Claudia's husband makes a last request and dies.
Elvis didn't really ride with Claudia, but a three-foot bust does. She and her
friends stow Elvis in the Cadillac's back seat and are off for a road trip to
Memphis. They discover pieces of themselves and others along the way,
while quoting scripture from the Good Book, Southern Living, and Graceland
lyrics. Their tears and laughter keep readers moving. They get back and have a garage sale, and
Claudia thanks God for answering "the cry of my heart," before she'd even prayed for it.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Justice, Texas Style

The Houston Press brings you Craig Malisow review of

Justice, Texas Style -- Read About It While You Can

Mon Jul 28, 2008 at 04:57:59 PM [ It begins ]
Authorities in Smith County (Tyler) might not be happy to learn that Smith County Justice, a book alleging systemic corruption and unusually harsh sentences in the county that virtually disappeared after its 1985 publication, is now available online. For free.
Since the book appeared on Wikileaks earlier this year, it's gained quite a following. (For those who want the original hardcover, four used copies are available on Amazon – starting at $595.)"

Southwest Journal of Cultures

The Southwest Journal of Cultures is about to launch!
"The SJC covers all significant happenings in the study of folk culture, high culture, and popular culture of the American Southwest, past and present. Looking outward, the journal is concerned with a southwestern perspective on national and international culture and culture studies.
We will post reviews of the latest scholarly texts dealing with southwestern art, literature, music, theatre, podcasts, weblogs, and more. Post your responses to our reviews and participate in the on-going discussion of what's new in the Southwest and the nation.
The SJC is a peer-reviewed venue."
Northeastern State University Centennial CelebrationLaunched as a centennial project of Northeastern State University in Oklahoma.  The Journal's chair of advisors is "Peter C. Rollins, Regents Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, and former editor-in-chief of Film & History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Film and Television Studies. For over a decade, he was the Associate Editor of the Journal of Popular Culture and the Journal of American Culture."

Blood and Thunder - Mark Finn

The Rabble Rouser's Forum posts a Paul Pappan review of the biography of Texas Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, etc., putting Howard in the Tall Tales Tradition.  The review begins
"Blood and Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard
by Mark Finn  -  MonkeyBrain Books | 2006

THIS BOOK EXPLORES the life and times of one of the most famous writers ever to come out of the state of Texas. During his brief writing career in the 1920s and 1930s, Robert E. Howard did a lot more for imaginative literature than simply create the character of Conan the Cimmerian.

In the early 1900s, Texas was experiencing an oil boom. Practically overnight, a town would spring up around oil wells, bringing all sorts of people, from roughnecks to work the wells,to barkeepers to prostitutes. They would stay until the oil ran out, then move on to the next boom town."   READ MORE AT

Texana Going to the Dogs

Book Featuring Rescued Texas Dog Published

July 5, 2008 :  Proceeds will help to fund various animal welfare organizations.
[Newsrelease begins]
"Dingo has traded his status from a lonely stray adopted from the Galveston Island Humane Society to a beloved family member, featured as the lead character in his own children's book, Where Do Dingos Come From. The Labrador/chow mix now has a fictional counterpart, who helps to teach children about adopting pets and kindness and compassion to animals.
Tracy and Bascom Bradshaw, authors of the book and Dingo's guardians, note, "This book is the first in a series that introduces our characters and how Dingo the dog meets Cricket and their pet-loving Mom, Sophie. Our books are really a medium for us to provide a face to our Dingo the Dog Project which funds trap-spay-neuter [TNR] programs in our Doha, Qatar neighborhood and donations to shelters, as well as the lesson plans we are developing for teaching children about responsible pet care and pet adoption.""