Thursday, January 18, 2018

Palo Duro ~ ~ Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

PALO DURO
by
MAX L. KNIGHT
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Western
Publisher: Page Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: September 2, 2017
Number of Pages: 226
Scroll down for the giveaway!

Westward expansion following the civil war ushered in an era of increased conflict between the Southern Plains Indians and white settlers. Peace treaties offered temporary suspension of hostilities, but more often than not resulted in broken promises as the two cultures clashed over land. The construction of frontier forts and towns, the decimation of the buffalo herds, the movement of cattle through Indian lands to burgeoning western markets, – all of these forces threatened a way of life that had existed for centuries.

The Comanche, the Southern Cheyenne, the Kiowa, the Apache all fought to protect their customs and homelands. The clashes were characterized by savagery on both sides - Indian and white. However, finite numbers and options would ensure the tribes’ defeat; they faced certain death or forced relocation and their days were numbered.

Though the Indian wars are the focus of Palo Duro, the novel also captures the spirit of the “Old West” with its depiction of the great cattle drives from Texas into Kansas, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana, the cattle barons and the trail blazers, the outlaws and gunslingers, the lawmen and Texas Rangers, and the settlers and entrepreneurs who built this country. It chronicles an era characterized by heroism, brutality, and bold ventures while paying tribute to a genre that is fading from public consciousness – the western. It is the story of the Southwest United States towards the end of the nineteenth century and the rugged individualism that forged a nation.
5 STAR PRAISE FOR PALO DURO:
This book captured Central Texas in the post-Civil War era better than any other book I’ve read. It was well researched, well written, and easy to read. I enjoyed this book more than Empire of the Summer Moon, the standard setter. I recommend this to readers of any level, even if you dislike history, as this book is that good. 
– Jeffrey R. Murray, Amazon review

Max Knight brought to life the saga of how Texas tamed their frontier. He presents a colorful experience with characters effectively placed throughout his story. If you have any interest in Texas history this book is a must read. – AmazonJacki, Amazon review

Palo Duro is an exceptional novel, well researched; a must read. 
– Chuck B., Amazon review

Reading this book is a great way to deepen and appreciate one’s Texas roots – or if you are not a Texan to understand and enjoy what makes Texas, well, Texas! I found this novel to be especially entertaining as well as informative. Made me want to go back and read Lonesome Dove again! – Michael P., Amazon review

In the spirit of the old Western genre of Zane Grey and L’amour, Max Knight pays homage to our national heritage with this fictional but historically accurate labor of love that warms the heart with his vivid imagery and authentic tone of America’s illustrious and sometimes brutal past. – Chester Sosinski, Amazon review

CLICK TO PURCHASE:

HALL WAYS REVIEW: ✪✪✪✪ In Palo Duro, readers are given thirteen sub-books, each focusing on a historical event or person(s), as related to the Southwest of the 1800s.  The events and people tend to weave in and out of the bigger novel because they are all connected in some form or fashion. While initially, some of the stories seem to be irrelevant (but highly entertaining and immensely interesting), author Max Knight makes sure readers know that nothing is randomly placed in Palo Duro.

“In the Wild West…it was almost impossible to differentiate between criminal activities, personal grudges, enforcement of the law, or actions taken it its name.”

Regardless of whether a sub-book or chapter focuses on a military, Native American, law enforcement, or renegade exploit, what strikes me is how the lines between the good guys and the bad guys are blurred and wiggly. Truly, they aren’t defined at all; Knight does a great job of presenting information in an unbiased manner.  Much of the book makes me question even more deeply the validity of the lessons I learned as a schoolgirl. Additionally, the barbaric ways in which people of all races and nationalities behave in Palo Duro, and the beliefs they stand behind to justify their actions, ring a sickening bell of familiarity in today’s world. Be warned: the Wild West and Great Plains Wars were brutal times and nothing’s sugar coated in Knight’s depictions.

“Not a Ranger under McNelly’s command batted an eye. Summary executions and torture were common practices for them.”

As the author acknowledges in the book, Palo Duro is a combination of fact and fiction. Two of my favorite characters – both so richly written and fleshed-out -- are sadly the latter, which is attestation to Max Knight’s creativity and talent as a writer. His storytelling ability is outstanding, as is illustrated in the dialogue created to move the stories forward and bring the settings and people to life.  I wish I better knew my history to know what is fact or fiction, so I am now inspired to do a little research on my own.

Structurally, Palo Duro is perfect for reluctant readers (but not those sensitive to violence) and anyone looking for bang for the buck. The sub-books and chapters are short, there are breaks and white pages, and it’s organized to include a helpful map, epilogue, and a wonderful “Afterwards” that tells exactly that – what happened to many of the key players and personalities after their mentions in the book. The acknowledgments and thanks sections are worth reading as well, as each gives the reader just a little more information to round out the book.

The only criticism I have of the book is that it needs serious proofreading to remove the numerous (to me) SPAG errors that distracted me from reading. Granted, I don’t imagine there are many who are distracted by a misused semi-colon or quotation marks, but anyone who reads my reviews knows it’s my curse/blessing. Despite the errors, I recommend the book to both history buffs and those, like me, who only have a rough idea of the wild west days and the displacement of the Native Americans. Palo Duro is your huckleberry.

Side Note: This is not a shameless plug for Lone Star Book Blog Tours, but... I find it so interesting that there are so many crossovers between so many of the books we’ve toured with LSBBT – Melissa Lenhardt’s Sawbones trilogy, Preston Lewis’s Bluster’s Last Stand and (upcoming tour) The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, Finding the Great Western Trail by Susan Gann Mahoney, and Yonderings by Ben English are a few that come to mind. All these stories, including Palo Duro, underscore the rich history, larger-than-life personalities, and vast landscape of Texas. AND they underscore the fabulously talented pool of Texas authors writing these books.

Thank you to the author for providing me a beautiful print copy (LOVE this cover) and for sharing his story with me in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 

Max L. Knight was born in Panama in 1949, and was raised both in the Canal Zone and in San Antonio, Texas where he now resides with his wife, Janet "Gray." A proud member of the Corps of Cadets and graduate of Texas A&M University (Class of '73), he received a bachelor’s degree in English and a Regular Army commission and served the next twenty-four years as an Air Defense and Foreign Area Officer before retiring in 1997 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. After leaving the Army, Max spent the next five years working for RCI Technologies of San Antonio, becoming its Director of Internal Operations. Separating from the company in 2002, he volunteered to be the first docent at the Alamo working within its Education Department before once again serving his country as a Counterintelligence Specialist in Europe, Central America, Asia and the Middle East through 2013. Max speaks several languages including Greek and Spanish. He also holds a Master of Science degree in government from Campbell University. He has written and published two books to date: Silver Taps, a personal memoir of his relationship with his father and a tribute to his alma mater, and Palo Duro, a novel focusing on the Indian wars in the southwestern United States at the end of the nineteenth century.
Blog ║ Twitter  
║ Amazon Author PagePinterest  Facebook

-------------------------------------
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
One Winner: Signed copy of Palo Duro + $20 Amazon Gift Card
Two Winners: Signed Copies of Palo Duro
JANUARY 10-19, 2018
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
1/10/18
Promo
1/10/18
Character Interview
1/11/18
Review
1/12/18
Favorites, Part 1
1/12/18
Guest Post
1/13/18
Review
1/14/18
Review
1/15/18
Excerpt
1/15/18
Favorites, Part 2
1/16/18
Review
1/17/18
Author Interview
1/17/18
Playlist
1/18/18
Review
1/19/18
Scrapbook Page
1/19/18
Review

   blog tour services provided by
  









Sunday, January 14, 2018

Anahuac ~ ~ Blog Tour, Review, & Giveaway!

ANAHUAC
A Texas Story (Volume 2)
by
WILLIAM D. DARLING
  Genre: Historical Fiction / Thriller
Publisher: Canned Peas Productions
Date of Publication: October 3, 2017
Number of Pages: 244


Scroll down for the giveaway!



The Anahuac of 1972 is more than just an isolated outpost on Texas’s Trinity Bay – it’s a place where greed and justice uncomfortably intermingle, where the evangelical fervor of charismatic preachers resonate, where blacks and whites navigate a fragile co-existence, and where a murder leads to even darker mysteries than murder. 

Jim Ward, introduced in Morgan’s Point as a young, idealistic Houston prosecutor, returns in Anahuac as an older, more conflicted, more complicated man, coming to Anahuac to defend a man who appears guilty of a horrible crime. His discoveries lead to entanglements in the very nature of good and evil, in a town that is at once of its time and timeless, steeped in a history that is unexpectedly but definitively drawing Ward in its narrative web.

 
PRAISE FOR ANAHUAC: 

"Austin writer William D. Darling’s second novel, Anahuac, is an entertaining, engrossing legal thriller that offers both darkly humorous and good-natured thrusts at life, love, and law . . . first-rate reading, especially for readers who enjoy legal thrillers, lawyer procedurals, suspense, Texas settings, and characters who live large." - Lone Star Literary Life

"Darling draws vivid portraits of his setting while also bringing in historical currents like women’s liberation, the growth of container shipping, and the rise of the prosperity gospel, adding interest to what’s otherwise a fairly simple courtroom drama." Kirkus Reviews

I'm a Texan originally from the east coast who's had occasion to meet some of these characters from another planet. Darling weaves us through the minds of lawyers with jealousies, insecurities, questions of faith, honor, and guilt as they tackle the case of a horrible crime that has the potential to put a man of God away forever. I held on tight as we went through the engrossing trial, which did not disappoint! If you love history, crime, passion, religion, and suspense, this is a must read! Kristy Recker (an Amazon reviewer)

HALL WAYS REVIEW: ✪✪✪✪✪* (with a caveat*). Anahuac: A Texas Story, Volume 2 is my first book finished in 2018 -- and it leaves some big shoes to fill for all those that come after it.  Perhaps it has a winning edge over others by including three of my favorite elements: Texas, the 1970s, and kick-ass female characters. Perhaps it’s because the story line grabs you by the collar and pulls you right into small town Texas where life is slow moving and change, progress, and outsiders are unwelcome intruders. Perhaps it’s because the story is unconventional in how it unfolds, which is primarily outside the courtroom.

“While the house and Sarita both retained hints of grandness, 
their best days were behind them.”

Author William Darling NAILS the setting of Anahuac in so many ways. (As a Texan and child of the '70s, I can vouch for the accuracy.) In addition to rich, detailed descriptions, Darling weaves in historical facts to remind the readers that they are immersed in a different time. Texas was still covered with sprawling ranches and more miles of undeveloped land and shorelines than not. Radio programming was strong, and carbon paper and typewriters were how most people made copies. Racial tensions were high, the Vietnam War was raging, and terrorists marred the Olympics.

“The beauty of this situation was that I could treat her like a man.”

A big part of Anahuac centers around the swirl of women’s rights movements that were happening in the 1970s. Women were becoming a presence in formerly male dominated professional fields, and it wasn’t necessarily a welcome change. I am not sure whether author William Darling intended the story to be so timely. Today women continue to fight many of the same equality demons; some are clothed differently, and others wear the same tired coats from forty (fifty? A hundred?) years ago.

All of the characters in Anahuac are well-crafted and fascinating including an eccentric and independent ranch woman, an evangelical preacher with a shady business manager, an old man with old money, and a small-town sheriff with a big hold over the town. Despite a large cast, Darling does an outstanding job of defining the players and making each unique and memorable and familiar to readers. Readers get not only a clear visual but a peek at what makes these multi-layered characters tick. The female characters in Anahuac are all kick-ass -- every single one. From the first pages where we meet the tough-as-nails Sarita Jo Franklin, to the legal secretary, Alice Ann, and the three powerhouse main women, Cooper, Aurora, and Chinky, readers are treated to smart, independent women who know what they want and are going for it despite the man-made hurdles. One of the reasons readers will love main character Jim Ward is that he shows growth as he questions the status quo, realizes that the women who surround him are on equal footing (or possibly have the upper hand), and embraces the advantages they can offer him personally and professionally. He respects them.

“It was one of those "moving duck" moments: on the surface I was sailing along calmly, below the surface I was paddling like hell.” [sic]

The plot was unexpected and unconventional and a real delight. Anahuac is full of the details one would expect with the main character an attorney and the main story line being his defense of an accused murderer. Rather than being a legal thriller, it’s character-driven and readers don’t spend much time in the courtroom.  By the resolution, readers don’t necessarily know who is guilty or innocent, despite how the jury rules. And that’s okay because readers learn so much more and are left with their interest piqued as to what’s going to happen next in the lives of these characters. I intend to go back and read book one in the series, Morgan’s Point, and sincerely hope that there’s a third installment on the horizon.

Anahuac is a top-notch story, and the story deserves a full five stars; however, there’s that caveat*. (Those who regularly read my reviews probably know what’s coming.) There are format issues and the book needs a thorough editing to correct some repeated lines, dropped words, and very basic and repetitive punctuation errors, several of which were glaring to these (Texan) eyes (Ya’ll? No, no, no.). It is common knowledge that I am a freak about all things SPAG. Despite my issue with the issues, that the errors didn’t sour me on the book attests to the quality of the story – it’s that good. I sincerely hope that future editions will be clean to take Anahuac to the next level, where it belongs.

Thank you to Lone Star Book Blog Tours and Orange Cone Agency for providing me a print copy in exchange for my honest opinion – the only kind I give. 



William D. Darling is a lifelong storyteller and very nearly a native Texan, arriving in his beloved state as an infant in 1942. His first novel, Morgan’s Point, introduced readers to both the mid-‘60s rough-and-tumble world of the Houston courts where Darling came of age, and the Galveston Bay region that has long fascinated him. His latest novel Anahuac, serves as a sequel to Morgan’s Point as well as its own fascinating tale.

Darling, who has lived within the legislative bustle of Washington, D.C. and in the beauty of a Central Texas ranch, currently resides in Austin, where he and his wife have built a longstanding law practice.

UPCOMING AUTHOR APPEARANCES:
January 20, 2018, 10:00AM
Anahuac Reading in Anahuac
William D. Darling brings it on home! He'll read from Anahuac in the city where the new novel is set for the first time ever.
Chambers County Library202 Cummings StreetAnahuacTXUS 

February 17, 2018, 4:30PM
Anahuac Houston Release Event
William D. Darling will sign and read from Anahuac, celebrating the release of the book with friends and well-wishers in the city he once called home, as part of a multi-author event.
Murder by the Books2342 BissonnetHoustonTXUS 
-------------------------------------
GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
THREE WINNERS EACH WIN A COPY OF ANAHUAC + $10 Amazon Gift Card
January 5-January 14, 2018
(U.S. Only)
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:


1/5/18
Notable Quotable
1/5/18
Author Interview
1/6/18
Review
1/7/18
Notable Quotable
1/8/18
Review
1/9/18
Excerpt
1/10/18
Notable Quotable
1/11/18
Review
1/12/18
Author Interview
1/13/18
Scrapbook Page
1/14/18
Review




   blog tour services provided by