31 March 2018

*Read My Review & Enter to Win!* WICKWYTHE HALL by Judithe Little

Judithe Little

Genre: Historical Fiction / WWII

Publisher: Black Opal Books
Date of Publication: September 30, 2017
Number of Pages: 324

*Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Awards Finalist*
*2018 Reader Views Readers’ Choice Award for Historical Fiction*
*Winner of the Tyler R. Tichelaar Award for Best Historical Fiction*

*Official selection of the Pulpwood Queens Book Club*
Scroll down for the giveaway!

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

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


“...a riveting and enlightening mix of history and fiction that puts a human face on the costs of war...engaging...”  — Foreword Reviews
“Little’s characterization of Churchill is so well done. She makes his personality and presence so real. Mabry was a character to be admired for her decisions and actions. A good read with a satisfying ending.”   — Historical Novels Review

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

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

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

 Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble  ┃

When the opportunity of reading and reviewing WICKWYTHE HALL by Judithe Little popped up in our blogging group, I nearly broke my neck jumping at the chance to get selected to review this book. Why, you ask? Well, there are many reasons, I tell ya! Probably the main one is that I’m an avid lover of anything to do with the WWII era, because I’m the daughter of a bona fide WWII hero who served in the South Pacific during the war and then re-enlisted to go to Europe after the fall of Germany. Daddy was awarded 5 Presidential Citations for his service to our country. And he remained a true patriot his whole life.

This is my handsome Daddy. He was a heart-breaker back in his day. Doesn’t he look like a movie star? Well, I’ve always thought he did. Daddy was a photographer in the Army Air Corps during the war, and many of the photos you see in books about WWII in the South Pacific were taken by him. We still have many of the originals he took, and we hold all the war stories he told us in our hearts, my siblings and me. In truth, he was a magical, fantastical soul.

I know, I know … you’re scratching your head and thinking that I look way too young to be a Baby Boomer. And you’d be right! My mother is a Baby Boomer. At the time the above photo was taken, she hadn’t even been born yet. (How scandalous!) Technically, I am a member of Generation X. But in truth, I reside somewhere in the betwixt and between generations … somewhere in that gap where magic casts its web through time and space. But I digress …

WICKWYTHE HALL arrived in my mailbox on a sunny day. To my sheer delight, I carefully (as you know, I like my books to stay pristine) turned back the lovely cover to discover that Ms. Little signed and personalized my review copy! Just look at it!  GAZE UPON THE SPLENDOR!  As an author, myself, receiving a signed copy speaks volumes to me. It tells me that the author values the reviewer and the time it takes to read and review her book. Ms. Little, I am your newest fangirl, yo!

And now we dive into the heart of the subject … the world between the (tactile-rich) covers of WICKWYTHE HALL. I must warn you now – as soon as you read the intro pages, you won’t be able to put this book down. You’ll be drawn in, unable to stop reading until your eyes will no longer stay open. I suggest preparing yourself with the largest cup of tea you can muster before reading the very first sentence. Like so …

Now, y’all know I’m not going to give away any spoilers, because I never do. So, stop asking! What I will tell you is that Ms. Little’s voice is impeccable and her narrative pristine and delightful. The reader experiences the story in such a way as to fully know the main characters without having to do all the work of piecing their history together.

I suspect, though I have no proof, that Ms. Little is an enchanter. I say this, because this is my blog, and I can! I also say this, because her character building is so carefully crafted as to make me wonder if she’s actually captured real live people and transferred them into this story by some dark magic. The ebb and flow of her storytelling is so intelligent, yet so easily readable that I became more of an observer than a reader. Indeed, I actually felt that I’d even slipped into the place of some of her characters. This is the type of writing that a literature major loves to read. This is the type of story that a literature major who minored in history devours. (In case you are wondering: that was me who majored in literature and minored in history.)

Within these pages resides a story of unrequited love, heart-wrenching loss, danger, and love - all set against the backdrop of WWII. But what is a story that contains all of those elements without a rich setting? Well, let me tell you this – you’re about to take a jaunt over the pond where you’ll first land in the infamous town of Dunkirk. Then you’ll make your way north to a splendid English estate called Wickwythe Hall. There, you’ll meet the most interesting people, including Winston Churchill. You’ll also meet a horse named Valhalla. (I had to include that last bit, because I spent two years studying Viking history, and I like saying Valhalla. VALHALLA! Yeah, y’all know I’m a nerd.)

Lovers of Downton Abbey will adore WICKWYTHE HALL by Judithe Little. For it has all the same architypes as the TV show: the lush English manor, the American heiress who marries a rich English lord, the enchanting relationships of those both upstairs and downstairs, the interesting and sometimes scandalous house guests, and the war that brings them all together – yet threatens to change their lives forever.

Seriously, I cannot get this book out of my head. It’s the type of story that lingers with you long after you’ve closed the cover and placed it on your shelf next to your other favorite books.

You must … oh, you simply must read it! Scroll down to ENTER TO WIN a signed copy of this fantastic book. Or go grab a copy on Amazon. WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???!

WICKWYTHE HALL by Judithe Little is the best book I’ve read in many moons!

And that’s why I’m granting
5 Glorious, Stunning, Enchanting Brooms!

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

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THREE WINNERS 1ST: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $50 Amazon Gift Card 2ND: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall + $25 Amazon Gift Card 3RD: Signed Copy of Wickwythe Hall  + $15 Amazon Gift Card
MARCH 27-APRIL 5, 2018
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27 March 2018

*Excerpt & Giveaway!* THE FLEECING OF FORT GRIFFIN by Preston Lewis


Genre: Western Humor
Publisher: Wild Horse Press
Date of Publication: May 19, 2016
Number of Pages: 234

2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association:
Best Creative Work on West Texas

Scroll down for the giveaway!

 When the young Englishman Baron Jerome Manchester Paget arrives in 1878 Fort Griffin with a satchel full of money to start a buffalo ranch and find a bride, a horde of colorful swindlers from throughout Texas arrive to help themselves to a rich serving of his naiveté to frontier ways.  
  With a passel of oddball characters and more twists and turns than a stagecoach trail, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin pits the baron against crooked gamblers, a one-eyed gunfighter, a savvy marshal, conniving females, a duplicitous cavalry officer and a worldly stump preacher. 
   To stay rich, the baron must stay alive!  And to stay alive, the baron must rely on a fourteen-year-old orphan and a rooster that serves as his guard animal.  Even so, the odds and the cards are stacked against the Englishman and his bold vision of becoming the baron of bison in West Texas. 
   Written by Spur Award-winning author Preston Lewis, a master of western plot twists and humor, The Fleecing of Fort Griffin takes readers on an unconventional and uproarious journey through the Old West and some of its unsavory characters.  


“… a work of colorful and humorous fiction,”
                             Albany Review

The Fleecing of Fort Griffin by Preston Lewis of San Angelo is one of the funniest westerns I’ve ever read.”
                             Glenn Dromgoole, Texas Reads

“If you're looking for a delightful tale, check out The Fleecing of Fort Griffin.” 
                             Bryan Eagle


“A Stage Robbery”
Excerpt from
The Fleecing of Fort Griffin

Ten miles out of Fort Griffin, Shorty DeLong pulled back on the reins and eased the team up. Just ahead, the trail crossed a stream he called “Cuss Word Creek” because he cursed it every time he reached it. The creek was tree-lined and rock strewn, making it impossible for the coach to take at Shorty’s regular pace. Bordered by cottonwoods and big boulders, the crossing dipped to a swale where the footing was rocky and rough, but solid. While the creek offered more level sites for crossing, those places had quicksand bottoms that could not support a stage.

Shorty DeLong approached the crest and put his foot on the brake as he started down. It was steep and the stage wheels slid into pitted ruts, then bounced over stones buried like corpses in the corrugated ground. As he descended the slope, he came under the cool shade of the huge cottonwood trees. He bounced about on the seat, holding back on the reins and braking with his foot. As the stage reached the bottom of the slope and leveled out into the knee high stream, Shorty shook the reins and released the brake, catching a glimpse of three horses tied fifty yards downstream around a flaming campfire. As the stage started up the facing slope, the tired horses struggling, a man appeared on the trail, a bandanna covering his face and a rifle pointing at Shorty DeLong.

“Stop the stage. This is a holdup,” commanded the robber.

Were it level land, Shorty would have run the man down, but this was incline and he couldn’t do much but obey. He jerked back on the reins. “I ain’t got a strong box.”

“I’ll take your passengers.”

“Just two of them,” Shorty replied, studying the robber. Even the bandanna could not hide the patch over the bandit’s left eye.

“Have ’em get out,” the robber commanded, “and no tricks. I’ve men in the rocks with rifles.”
Warily, Shorty looked to his side and saw a rifle pointed between two rocks at him. The boulders screened all but the gunman’s rifle and large sombrero.

The robber noted DeLong’s gaze at the sombrero. “I’ve another friend with a shotgun in the trees. You best unload the passengers.”

“Passengers,” Shorty shouted, “get out. I’ve a schedule to keep.”

The door swung open slowly.

“Hands up or you’re dead,” cried the robber.

“Do as he says boys,” Shorty warned.

The baron slid out first, satchel in hand, then Joe Loper.

“Well I’ll be damned if it ain’t Joe Loper and that damned Englishman,” laughed the robber. “Driver, your passengers are staying with me. Do they have a trunk in the boot?”

“Yep,” nodded DeLong.

“Then unload it, and you can be on your way.”

Shorty pointed at Loper and the baron. “What about them?”

The robber laughed again. “Unless you’re taking this stage to hell, they’ll be following a different road away from here.” The robber shook the gun at Shorty’s face.

Shorty gulped. “Sorry boys.” Quickly he tied the reins over the brake lever, scrambled from the driver’s seat and scurried to the rear of the stage, unfastening the tarp over the boot.

“Help the driver, Loper,” the robber commanded, waving the gun at the gambler. “I won’t shoot you in the back. For now!” He laughed.

Shorty jerked the trunk from the boot and dropped it on the trail. Loper and the baron grabbed a handle at the end of the trunk and moved it away from the stage.

“And Baron, don’t let go of the carpetbag because I need the money.”

Shorty inched back toward the front of the stage.

The robber waved his pistol at Shorty. “Get up there and get going unless you want to join them on their trip to hell.”

Shorty scrambled atop the stage, unwrapped the reins from the brake lever and nodded at the masked man. Shorty looked downstream at the three tethered horses, a yellow dun catching his eye because of the live rooster bound and hanging from its saddle horn.

“Boys,” said the robber, waving his pistol at his victims, “carry your trunk to my fire. There’s a shovel there you can use to start digging your graves. This is where we bury the baron.” The robber laughed.

            Preston Lewis is the Spur Award-winning author of 30 western, juvenile and historical novels, including The Fleecing of Fort Griffin, a western caper published by Wild Horse Press.  Fleecing won the 2017 Elmer Kelton Award from the West Texas Historical Association (WTHA) for best creative work on West Texas. 
     Lewis is best known for his comic novels in The Memoirs of H.H. Lomax series. 
Bluster’s Last Stand, a novel about Custer and the Battle of Little Bighorn, is the latest volume in the well-received series that began with The Demise of Billy the Kid.  Subsequent books in the series—The Redemption of Jesse James and Mix-Up at the O.K. Corral—were both Spur Finalists from Western Writers of America (WWA). 
           Blood of Texas, Lewis’s historical novel on the Texas Revolution, received WWA’s Spur Award for Best Western Novel.  His True West article on the Battle of Yellowhouse Canyon won a Spur Award for Best Nonfiction Article.  In addition to his two Spurs from WWA, Lewis has earned three Elmer Kelton Awards from WTHA.
       Lewis’s novels have appeared under the imprint of national publishing houses such as Bantam, Zebra and HarperCollins and of regional publishing companies like Eakin Press and Wild Horse Press.  His short works have appeared in publications as varied as Louis L’Amour Western Magazine, Persimmon Hill, Dallas Morning News, True West, The Roundup, Journal of the Wild West History Association and San Angelo Standard-Times
       A native West Texan and current San Angelo resident, Lewis holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from Baylor and Ohio State universities.  He earned a second master’s degree in history from Angelo State University.  He is a past president of WWA and WTHA.  Lewis is a longstanding member of the Authors Guild and an associate member of the Dramatists Guild of America.  

1ST PRIZE: Signed Copy of The Fleecing of Fort Griffin Choice of Any One Book from the H.H. Lomax Series 2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of The Fleecing of Fort Griffin
MARCH 20-29, 2018

(US ONLY; email addresses collected will be used by author for distribution list)

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