18 April 2018

*Read My Review & Enter to Win!* THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION by J. Reeder Archuleta

Genre: Fiction /Short Stories / Coming of Age
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC
Date of Publication: December 8, 2017
Number of Pages: 132

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These short stories are about coming of age in rural far West Texas.  The stories are about the people who have come to stay in a remote part of Texas with a climate that can be harsh and unpredictable and that is demanding and unforgiving.  The stories are told through the eyes of Josh, a young boy, who finds himself alone in a small farm and ranch community and who realizes that he will have to make his own way in this place.  Along the way he meets a group of characters with different takes on life.  Some try to help shield him from the chaos of the world, some try to add more chaos. But all of them, in their own distinct way, through jobs, advice, or actions, play a part in his life.


“Punchy, plainspoken dialogue…colorful and charismatic characters…The result is an atmospheric Texas…reminiscent of Larry McMurtry’s “The Last Picture Show.” -- Kirkus Reviews

“The universality of Josh’s journey gives it a timeless quality…a rich tapestry…The stories are conveyed in lean, elegant prose reminiscent of Annie Proulx and Cormac McCarthy” -- Blue Ink Review

“Archuleta’s collection offers poignant and hopeful stories of determination in the face of need. Thoroughly engaging…narrated with passion and eloquence…” -- The Clarion Review      
CLICK TO ORDER ON: Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble 

As y’all well know by now, I love me some Texas. And I don’t mean just any ole plain love. I mean l-u-r-v-e. I will, in fact, fight anyone who talks against my beloved Lone Star State. I was, after all, born deep in the heart of East Texas and raised in Nacogdoches (the oldest town in Texas) where the piney woods and pecan trees create a sort of magic during the summer. But I’m getting off-topic here…

When the option of reviewing THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION and other stories by J. Reeder Archuleta popped up in our blogging group, I scrambled like a frog across a hot rock to get chosen to read and review this collection of West Texas short stories.

I was quite intrigued with a few blurbs I’d read on the book … blurbs that mentioned Archuleta’s book was a collection of short stories set out in West Texas. But I’m here to tell you it’s much more than that.

But before I get any further, there’s something else I want … no … need to mention. As a student of Literature, my professors taught me to analyze everything about a book and the story it holds. It’s become a sort of habit that sometimes bumfuzzles and flat-out bores some folks. But not those who truly love books. I trust you’ll understand what I’m about to share. Here goes…

THE EL PASO RED FLAME GAS STATION and other stories by J. Reeder Archuleta arrived at my mailbox neatly sealed in a cardboard envelope. It took a bit of coaxing with a serrated knife, but I was finally able to release the book from captivity. Much to my delight, the cover is even more colorful that it had appeared online. Y’all know how much I love a delicious cover. Isn’t it gorgeous?

What do I love more than a great cover, you ask? Allow me to answer with a photo.

Yes. I adore an author who cares enough to send a reviewer a signed and personalized copy. As an author myself, it speaks volumes to me. It says, “I value the time and effort you are putting into reading and reviewing my work.”

And now we come to the part I mentioned above … the part where my nerdy obsession with book analyzing comes into play. When I carefully (‘cause y’all know I like my books to remain pristine) turned back the gorgeous cover of Archuleta’s book, the first thing I saw was how he’d written my last name underneath my first name. 

In fact, I puzzled over it for quite some time … it was as if the author was hinting at something to me. Yet, I couldn’t figure it out. So I plowed into the book, thinking I would eventually realize why he’d written my name like that.

And then it hit me. Right smack dab in the middle of the first short story titled JOLIE BLON:

“Cecil put his plate down and began to roll a cigarette. ‘What have I done now, Belle?’”

Yep, you read that right! There’s a character in this book that shares the same name as yours truly. Unfortunately, she turns out to be a heifer and a hussy, which I’m glad to say I’m neither.

Was Archuleta’s personalization of his book subliminal or was it merely unintentional? I have my suspicions. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Anyway, back to the review …

As I also mentioned above, this book is much more than just a collection of short stories set out in West Texas. The short stories between the covers of this book share one important thread – a boy named Josh who’s the son of Belle. Now, I’m not going to give away any spoilers, 'cause I never do. But I will tell y’all this – you will feel as though you’ve actually spent a lifetime in West Texas once you finish reading the stories Archuleta has recorded in these pages.

To me, these stories feel authentic … as if they’ve actually been lived, not told. As if the “J” in the author’s name – “J. Reeder Archuleta” stands for Josh. I’d wager a pretty penny that it does. (But that's just between you and me.)

Archuleta’s voice is that of a bard. His writing style drew me away to a campfire in some far-off desert in West Texas. As I read each line, I could almost hear the cadence in his voice as he told each short story over the crackling of burning mesquite and cedar logs, the glow of firelight dancing in his eyes. This is the stuff of a real teller of stories. This is the type of book a lover of well-told tales lives to read.

I could not put this book down. And even now, as I write this, the story lingers in the back of my mind. For this book is more than just a collection of short stories stitched together and bound into a book for sale. ‘Tis the pieces of a boy’s life and the story of those who’d made an impact on his heart and soul. 

Yep, it's going on my "favorite books" shelf.

Read it, I implore you. This style of storytelling is magic!

And that is why I grant
by J. Reeder Archuleta


The author was raised in far West Texas and five generations of his family are in their final resting place there.  His great-grandfather is buried in Concordia Cemetery in El Paso within spitting distance of the grave of John Wesley Hardin.

Website  ║ Amazon Author Page ║  
APRIL 17-26, 2018
Bonus Post
Author Interview
Notable Quotable
Character Interview

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14 April 2018

*Read the Excerpt & Enter to Win!* A BORROWED DREAM by Amanda Cabot

The Cimarron Creek Trilogy, Book 2
Amanda Cabot
Genre: Historical Romance / Inspirational
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 20, 2018
Number of Pages: 352

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Catherine Whitfield is sure that she will never again be able to trust anyone in the medical profession after the town doctor’s excessive bleeding treatments killed her mother. Despite her loneliness and her broken heart, she carries bravely on as Cimarron Creek’s dutiful schoolteacher, resigned to a life without love or family, a life where dreams rarely come true.
Austin Goddard is a newcomer to Cimarron Creek. Posing as a rancher, he fled to Texas to protect his daughter from a dangerous criminal. He’s managed to keep his past as a surgeon a secret. But when Catherine Whitfield captures his heart, he wonders how long he will be able to keep up the charade.
With a deft hand, Amanda Cabot teases out the strands of love, deception, and redemption in this charming tale of dreams deferred and hopes becoming reality.


“Cabot’s sweet love story will appeal to readers of gentle romances. . .Although this title stands on its own, readers of A Stolen Heart (2017), the first in Cabot’s place-based trilogy, will be happy to revisit the folks of Cimarron Creek.” 
- Booklist

“The second book in Cabot’s Cimarron Creek trilogy is even better than the first, with a dash of suspense, an intriguing bit of medical history and a host of enjoyable characters.” 
- RT Book Reviews


“Readers will enjoy the surprising ending as well as the romance always found in Cabot’s books.”Publishers Weekly

“Moments of humor provide a nice balance to the heartwarming scenes and the mild suspense thread.”RT Book Reviews

“Cabot’s nonpreachy inspirational romance features characters who genuinely try to live honorable lives, and their story has broad appeal for readers of gentle fiction and historical romance as well as for readers of Christian fiction.”Booklist 

Baker Book House  ┃  Amazon  ┃  Barnes & Noble 
┃  Christianbook.com  ┃  Books-A-Million  ┃  Kobo  ┃

By Amanda Cabot

Did you miss parts one, two, or three? 

JANUARY 3, 1881

The buildings lining Main Street were considerably smaller than the ones in Paris and Philadelphia, but that was to be expected. Cimarron Creek was a small town, not a big city, its population less than two hundred. Still, the stores and offices were attractive and well cared for, bearing witness to the residents’ pride. That was one of the things Austin had noticed when he’d first driven through the town, yet another indication that this was the right place for him and Hannah to make their home.
He tugged the reins, stopping the horse in front of the stone building, its bell and the swing in the side yard announcing as clearly as a sign that this was the school. “We’re here.”

Hannah’s eyes filled with tears, and when he lifted her from the wagon and placed her on the ground, she clung to his hand.

“There’s no reason to be afraid,” Austin said, his heart thudding at the realization that while his fears had diminished, his daughter’s had not. “There’ll be other girls your age.” Some were already here. Though Austin had hoped to give Hannah a chance to meet the schoolmarm and settle in before anyone else arrived, he’d failed. Half a dozen children played outside the school.
Hannah glanced at them, her grip on his hand tightening as he led the way up the steps to the schoolhouse. “It’ll be all right.” Austin opened the door and ushered his daughter inside. If only Hannah would believe him.

The school was similar to the one he’d attended as a boy, the hooks on the wall of the first room identifying it as a cloakroom. He led his daughter through it into the main room. Like the one Austin recalled from his childhood, this classroom had a center aisle separating two rows of desks. Maps of Texas and the United States hung on one side wall, with portraits of President Hayes and Governor Roberts on the other. As he’d expected, the teacher’s desk was located between the pupils’ desks and the blackboard that covered most of the front wall, and while there was no dunce stool in the corner, an adult-sized chair sat at one side of the teacher’s desk. Perhaps that was the modern substitute for the stool.

Austin’s gaze moved around the room again, noting the cleanliness and order, then returned to the woman who stood at the blackboard, writing today’s Bible verse and assignments.
As if alerted by the sound of his footsteps, she turned, and he felt the blood drain from his face. The teacher had the same glossy dark brown hair, the same chocolate brown eyes as his wife, but Geraldine had been several inches taller than this woman, and Austin could not remember Geraldine ever wearing such a welcoming smile when she greeted a stranger. She had been reserved when she first met people, only warming to them after she’d come to know them. Hannah had apparently inherited that reticence from her mother.

Wrenching his thoughts from his late wife and her legacy to their daughter, Austin cleared his throat.
“Good morning,” he said, grateful that his vocal cords still functioned properly. “You must be Miss Whitfield. I’m Austin Goddard, and this is my daughter Hannah.”

The teacher’s smile broadened as she closed the distance between them. “Welcome to Cimarron Creek, Mr. Goddard. As you surmised, I’m Catherine Whitfield.” She looked down at Hannah, her eyes radiating genuine warmth as she said, “I’m so glad you’re here, Hannah. How old are you?”
Her hand still clutching Austin’s, Hannah stared at the floor and said nothing.

“She’s six.”

Apparently unconcerned by Hannah’s silence, Miss Whitfield nodded. “That’s perfect. Rebecca needs a partner.”

Up close, Austin saw that Catherine Whitfield bore little resemblance to his wife beyond the color of her hair and eyes. Her features were finer, her face heart shaped rather than oval, her skin slightly darker, perhaps because of the warmth of the Texas sun.

“I pair older children with the younger ones,” she explained. “That works well for both of them. The older ones learn responsibility, while the younger children have role models.” She bent down until she was at eye level with Hannah. “Rebecca will be so happy that you’ve come. She was the only girl without a partner.”

As if on cue, the door opened and several girls entered the schoolroom, giggling as they made their way toward their desks.

Miss Whitfield straightened. “Rebecca,” she said with obvious pleasure, “your prayer has been answered. Come meet Hannah Goddard.”

Austin gave the girl who would be working closely with his daughter an appraising look. He guessed her to be eleven or twelve, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and a warm smile. Though he’d thought Hannah would make friends with girls closer to her own age, perhaps Rebecca would be able to break through the silence more easily than a younger child.

When Miss Whitfield had made the introductions, she nodded at Rebecca. “Please show Hannah her desk. I need to talk to her father.”

As the two girls headed to a desk on the right side of the room, Austin followed the teacher toward the front. “Hannah’s always been shy,” he told her, “but moving here has been difficult for her.”
Miss Whitfield nodded, her expression warm and sympathetic. “That’s only natural. And losing her mother . . .”

Before she could complete the sentence, the door opened and a gangly boy entered the room, his appearance silencing the teacher. Austin could see that she registered the same things he did: the pallor, glassy eyes, and unsteady gait.

“Good morning, Seth.” To Austin’s surprise, the teacher’s voice did not reflect the alarm he’d seen in her eyes. This sounded like a normal greeting. Turning her desk’s side chair so that it faced the blackboard rather than the classroom and would give the boy a modicum of privacy, she gestured toward it. “Come here, please.”

Though Seth looked as if he were on the verge of collapsing, somehow he made it to the chair before he practically fell onto it. Slumping forward, he gripped his head with both hands.

“He needs a doctor.” Austin had no doubt that the boy, who appeared to be around thirteen, needed medical care. In addition to the symptoms he was exhibiting today, the dullness of Seth’s light brown hair and his extreme thinness told Austin he was not only underfed but also malnourished. That combined with the spasms that were now wracking his body could be dangerous. And then there were the bruises that marred his face. Although not caused by any illness, they were alarming.
Austin turned to the teacher. “If you tell me where to find him, I’ll fetch the doctor.”

Though he had expected her to agree with him, Miss Whitfield stared at him with what could only be called horror. Unlike the momentary alarm she’d shown when Seth entered the classroom, this was a deep-seated emotion, one she appeared unable to control.

“We need to do this,” Austin said, hoping his deliberately calm tone would allay her fears. “Seth needs a doctor.”

Catherine Whitfield’s reaction was instantaneous. “Never!”

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of A Stolen Heart, the first book of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming. 

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THREE WINNERS 1ST: Copy of A Borrowed Dream, Novel Teas (25 count), Paddywax Library Collection Ralph Waldo Emerson Scented Soy Wax Candle, Cedar & Wild Fern (6.5oz) 
2ND: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Barnes & Noble Gift Card 3RD: Copy of A Borrowed Dream + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
APRIL 12-21, 2018
Excerpt 1
Excerpt 2
Author Interview
Excerpt 3
Excerpt 4
Notable Quotable
Notable Quotable
Guest Post
Scrapbook Page


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