17 December 2019

*REVIEW & GIVEAWAY!* Santa Claus Bank Robbery by Tui Snider

  Genre: Nonfiction / Texana / Texas History
Publisher: Castle Azle Press
Date of Publication: December 8, 2019
Number of Pages: 146 pages + black & white photos
Scroll down for Giveaway!

When Marshall Ratliff dressed like Santa Claus to pull a Christmas-time heist, he thought it would be easy. Unfortunately for him, when the citizens of Cisco heard Santa was robbing a bank, they came running - with loaded guns in hand! But can you blame them? In 1927, the only way to earn the $5000 Dead Bank Robber Reward was to kill a bandit while the crime was in progress.

This bungled bank robbery led to a wild shootout and a getaway with two little girls as hostages. And that is only the beginning! Tui Snider’s true-crime tale reads like a comedy of errors as the consequences of the Santa Claus Bank Robber’s actions escalate to include a botched car-jacking, one of the biggest manhunts in Texas history, and a jailbreak leading to a deadly conclusion. Meanwhile, it’s up to readers to decide whether or not a mysterious blonde helped these gangsters escape. And if so, did she get away with murder?

It’s a rare thing for me to pick up a Christmas themed book and give it a read. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas, because I seriously LURVE me some Yuletide. It’s just that I usually find Christmas themed books to be all syrupy and, well, quite frankly …. Bleh.

Y’all know how busy this time of year is, and I just didn’t have the time to read and review a book. I’ve got shopping to do and prezzies to wrap, cookies to bake and eat, so I can bake some more and eat them, dangit!

Enter Kristine, the ever-loving, brazen temptress of bloggers. She had the audacity to post up a call for reviewers for Tui Snider’s SANTA CLAUS BANK ROBBERY. My nostrils flared, my eyebrows turned into a V (sorta like Spock's, only sassier), as I clicked on the sign-up link.

Because she knew … oh, she knew good and well that I could not pass up reading and reviewing one of Tui’s books! “HOW DARE SHE ENTRAP ME LIKE THIS DURING THE HOLIDAYS!” I shouted whilst filling out the Google sign-up form. Then I started typing faster, for fear that someone else would get higher on the list (and boot me out of getting a review copy), faster and faster I typed until I looked like this:

I hope Kristine is happy!

But I digress.

Y’all, it’s no secret that EVERYTHING is bigger in Texas. This story is no dadgum exception, with the exception that it’s a mere 140 pages long. Size doesn’t matter (in this instance), because the story that lies betwixt the covers of this book is the absolute most Texas-y (pronounced “Texasie” – I just made that word up) story I have ever read in my entire cotton-pickin’ life. 

SANTA CLAUS BANK ROBBERY by Tui Snider is the true story of the craziest bank heist I have ever heard of … and y’all … it includes a dude dressed up like Old Saint Nick! GAHHHH! This is the first time I have ever wanted to give spoilers in a book review, because this book is simply marv-to the-lous!  Look, I’m not going to give y’all any spin here. I’m gonna shoot straight from the hip. Y’all have simply got to read this book! I freaking devoured it.

This book has every single solitary thang (yes, I said “thang”) in a book that you could possibly want. There’s a Santa who’s officially on the naughty list for all eternity, there’s a group of dummies who had no business plotting a robbery, and there’s a reward that had just been instituted that promised to pay thousands to whomever managed to kill a bank robber. The latter, y’all … oh, my gosh … the latter added to the craziest mayhem I’ve ever heard about in my entire life, and I write science fiction!  

Tui starts the book out by telling the reader about a homey restaurant she and her husband came across during their travels in West Texas where she happened upon the most outlandish tale you’ll ever read. From there, it’s as if the reader is sitting at the table in the tightly packed cafĂ©, listening to Tui recount all the wildest, craziest events surrounding a Christmastime heist gone terribly wrong.

This author has quickly become one of my faves. Seriously. I’ve reviewed a couple of her books before, and I simply adore her talent for storytelling and for, quite frankly, her skill at researching and uncovering the truth … and that’s exactly what she’s done in this book. Tui even discovers that there was an unknown blonde headed woman involved in the whole crazy business on that fateful day, and the heifer got off scot-free!

Another thing that I totes geeked out over about this book was there are photos of the guilty and innocent who were involved in this crazy-arse story. She even added a diagram of where the witnesses and Santa (with his helpers) were located in the bank when the whole thing went down (in a very bad, wildly rabid, unbelievably cray-cray sorta way).

And, I’ll admit, y’all, to LOLing (out loud, waking the dog) like a madwoman during the part where Santa meets his demise. Not that I was happy about it, but because of the downright irony of where and how it happened. Seriously, it had to be more than a coinky-dink. There is no way in heck it was by accident! No stinking way! No way was it on purpose. It was one of those strangely cosmic events that adds to the outright oddity of this story.

Seriously, if someone would PLEASE take Snider’s book and turn it into a movie, it would be a dadgum blockbuster of a thing, and I will personally write her and ask to be included in the movie (even as an extra)!

One thing I want to make sure to mention is that prior to receiving my review copy of this book, Tui sent me a lovely postcard letting me know that the book was on the way and thanking me for reading and reviewing her book. It included a sweet picture of her kitty cat with her book. So, I shall forthwith return those sweet sentiments with this picture of Sascha Marie (who you can follow on Facebook by clicking here) with said marvelous book.

Tui Snider’s ability to take an actual historic event, with all its twists and turns, and compose it into a chronological tale is deliciously fabulous! I’m in love with her writing!

And that’s why I hereby grant

By Tui Snider


Tui Snider is an award-winning writer, speaker, photographer, and musician specializing in offbeat sites, overlooked history, cemetery symbolism, and haunted lore. As she puts it, “I used to write fiction, but then I moved to Texas!” Tui lectures frequently at universities, libraries, conferences, and bookstores.This fall, she will speak about the Great Airship Mystery of 1897 at this year’s UFO Congress and teach a course on Understanding Cemetery Symbols at Texas Christian University. She also shares weekly info-videos based on her research at her YouTube channel. Snider’s writing and photography have been featured in a variety of media outlets, including WFAA TV, Coast to Coast AM, LifeHack, Langdon Review, the City of Plano, Wild Woman Waking, Shades of Angels and many more. She has several more books in progress.

 GRAND PRIZE (US only) Signed Paperback +$10 Amazon Gift Card + Thank You Post Card
2ND PRIZE (US only)Signed Copy + Thank You Post Card
3RD PRIZE (International): Kindle eBook
  December 12-22, 2019


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05 December 2019

EXCLUSIVE! Cover Reveal! EXECUTION IN E by Alexia Gordon

Lone Star Literary Life EXCLUSIVE!
Lone Star Literary Life is honored to present the cover
of the fifth book in the Gethsemane Brown Mysteries
by Alexia Gordon & Henery Press.
To be released March, 2020


ABOUT THE BOOK:   Romance is in the air. Or on the ‘gram, anyway. When an influencer-turned-bridezilla shows up at the lighthouse to capture Insta-perfect wedding photos designed to entice sponsors to fund her lavish wedding, Gethsemane has her hands full trying to keep Eamon from blasting the entire wedding party over the edge of the cliff. Wedding bells become funeral bells when members of the bride’s entourage start turning up dead. Frankie’s girlfriend, Verna, is pegged as maid-of-honor on the suspect list when the Garda discover the not-so-dearly departed groom was her ex and Gethsemane catches her standing over a body. Gethsemane uncovers devilish dealings as she fights to clear Verna, for Frankie’s sake. Will she find the killer in time to save Frankie from another heartbreak? Or will the photos in her social media feed be post-mortem?


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: A writer since childhood, Alexia Gordon won her first writing prize in the 6th grade. She continued writing through college but put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. She established her medical career then returned to writing fiction. Raised in the southeast, schooled in the northeast, she relocated to the west where she completed Southern Methodist University’s Writer’s Path program. She admits Texas brisket is as good as Carolina pulled pork. She practices medicine in North Chicago, IL. She enjoys the symphony, art collecting, embroidery, and ghost stories.

 ║  Website ║ Facebook ║ Instagram   ║ BookBub  ║ Twitter  Goodreads 

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14 October 2019

*Review & GIVEAWAY!* Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher

Middle Grade / Medieval Historical Fiction (grades 3-7)
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Date of Publication: October 2, 2018
Paperback: October 1, 2019
Number of Pages: 302

Scroll down for the giveaway!

A runaway boy befriends a polar bear that’s being transported from Norway to London in this lyrical and timeless adventure story about freedom, captivity, and finding a family.

The polar bear is a royal bear, a gift from the King of Norway to the King of England. The first time Arthur encounters the bear, he is shoved in her cage as payback for stealing food. Restless and deadly, the bear terrifies him. Yet, strangely, she doesn’t harm him—though she has attacked anyone else who comes near. That makes Arthur valuable to the doctor in charge of getting the bear safely to London. So Arthur, who has run away from home, finds himself taking care of a polar bear on a ship to England.

Tasked with feeding and cleaning up after the bear, Arthur’s fears slowly lessen as he begins to feel a connection to this bear, who like him, has been cut off from her family. But the journey holds many dangers, and Arthur knows his own freedom—perhaps even his life—depends on keeping the bear from harm. When pirates attack and the ship founders, Arthur must make a choice—does he do everything he can to save himself, or does he help the bear to find freedom?

Based on the real story of a polar bear that lived in the Tower of London, this timeless adventure story is also a touching account of the bond between a boy and a bear.



Honor Book, Golden Kite Awards, 2019
Vermont's 2019-2020 
Dorothy Canfield Fisher list 2020 
Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award 
Children's Master list School Library Connection highly recommended book 
Junior Library Guild Selection 50 Must-Read Historical Fiction Books for Kids, bookriot.com 

“…a stupendous coming-of-age-tale stuffed with adventure and laced with deeper questions… A richly satisfying story saturated with color, adventure, and heart.” –Kirkus, starred review 

“I simply adore this novel. It has it all: gorgeous prose, fascinating history, riveting adventure. But it’s the unlikely tender friendship between a lonely boy and a polar bear that makes this a story to cherish. A lovely little miracle of a book.” 
–Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal-winning author of The One and Only Ivan 

“I loved every single thing about this large-hearted and riveting medieval adventure.” —William Alexander, National Book Award-winning author of Goblin Secrets

Do you ever get that indescribable hankering deep down in your soul for a different kind of read? You can’t put your finger on it, but it’s that inner gnawing that just won’t shut up and go away.

I’ve been having that dadgum nagging hankering for a while now. Now, I’ve got a TON of books in my house. Every single room is loaded with them (it’s taking forever to complete the conversion of my spare bedroom into a library). Even my little ole Kindle is so full of unread books that I’m surprised it hasn’t exploded yet.

But nothing has sounded good. I was getting hangry for something different. I was about to give up.  Until Kristine had the confounded, all-out nerve and unmitigated gall to post a sign-up in our blogger group for some book about a bear.

I shrugged, squinting at the image of the cover on the Google form sign-up page.
“Hmmm … well, the cover is my favorite color,” I says to myself. “Why the heck not?” I also says to myself.

So I shrugged once more and typed in my deets, not too overly-concerned or ecstatic about getting selected to review a book about a boy and a bear.

And then I forgot I signed up for the blog tour.

Until one bright, sunny autumn day.  I was minding my own confounded business, checking my mail, and discovered a very suspect and suspicious envelope in my mailbox.

I immediately imagined that it was a bomb.
I mean…what else could it be. Right?

Well, I let my boss - AKA Sascha Marie, resident four-legged bomb squad and herder extraordinaire – sniff the package, just in case. She was instantly bored and went back to snoozing on her pillow. So, I felt it was safe to tear into the strange envelope.

Follow Sascha Marie on Facebook by Clicking her Pic
I gingerly put my hand in and felt something smooth and cool to the touch.

I withdrew the alien object to discover …

An absolutely GORGEOUS book! 

Y’all, allow me a moment to geek-out and gush. The publisher sent me a lovely hardcover copy and a letter, to boot. No, it’s not autographed, and I’m smirking about that, even as I type this. Y’all know how I lurve it when the author signs the book.

Le Sigh.

Maybe she’ll send me a signed bookplate?

*crosses fingers*

But I digress. I know … I know … y’all came here for a review.

I’ll get on with it. Dang, y’all are about as bossy as Sascha Marie!

This book feels great in your hands. Its tactile quality is lovely. But what is even better is what’s inside.

Now, y’all know that I’m a huge history nerd. I wasn’t even expecting to take a trip back in time. Yet, there I was (in my flannel pajamas) traveling back to 1272, London. I could hear the sounds - the clink of chain mail, the clank of a sword; feel the feels - the hand-carved boards of the wooden drawbridge beneath the soles of my leather shoes; see the sights - the glare of a torch held before my face, its warm glow leaving spot of light swimming in my eyes.

And into the past, I tumbled, head-over-heels, landing onto the cobblestones of the outer bailey of an ancient fortress.

Fletcher reeled me in, line and sinker from the very first word. What a hook!
(She was prolly laughing maniacally whilst reeling me in with that whopper of a hook in my ever-loving jaw, yo!)

Like so:

No, I will not give y’all any sort of spoilers! Y’all keep on asking like I’m finally gonna give in!

This book deserves to be devoured, for it is a delicious banquet served in troughs placed on wooden tables in the great hall. It simply must be enjoyed, picking every single nibble from the bone until the very last word.

But what I will tell y’all is - though this book is written for middle-grade, it is so intelligently written, one would think it was penned for YA or adults. There is no pandering in Susan’s writing. She is holding up a literary standard, and the story is so good that even young readers will rise to the challenge.

JOURNEY OF THE PALE BEAR by Susan Fletcher is one of those rare books one is loath to put down for fear of missing something whilst away.

Within these covers, the reader becomes the main character, and the author is the bard-ess, sitting across the fire, the warm glow of light reflecting in her eyes as she recounts the tale of the journey of the pale bear and her beloved companion. I know it must be a true story! It simply must! It’s too good to be fictitious!

Simply put:

Fletcher’s writing is so lyrical, tangible, and delicious … It left me hungry for more!

All y'all need to read this book! Grab a copy! Heck, scroll down to enter to win!

And that’s why I grant
Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher
5 Glorious, Ancient Brooms!

Although Susan loves to write about long-ago and faraway places, she can’t bring those worlds to life without grounding them in the details of this one. To that end, she has explored lava tubes and sea caves; spent the night in a lighthouse; traveled along the Silk Road in Iran; ridden in a glider, on a camel, and on a donkey; and cut up (already dead!) baby chicks and mice for a gyrfalcon’s dinner. To research Journey of the Pale Bear, she explored the grounds of the Tower of London and went backstage at the Oregon Zoo, where, standing breathtakingly near, she watched polar bears Tasul and Conrad lip grapes from their keepers’ open palms. Journey of the Pale Bear is Susan’s 12th book, including the Dragon Chronicles series, Shadow Spinner, and Alphabet of Dreams. Collectively, her books have been translated into nine languages; accolades include a Golden Kite Honor Book, the American Library Association’s Notable Books and Best Books for Young Adults, BCCB Blue Ribbon Books, and School Library Journal’s Best Books. Susan has an M.A. in English from the University of Michigan and taught for many years in the M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults program at Vermont College. She lives in Bryan, Texas with her husband, historian R.J.Q. Adams, and their dog, Neville.

OCTOBER 10-20, 2019
(U.S. Only)

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