Connecting Texas books and writers with those who most want to discover them
Several of my favorite contemporary Texas women writers have new novels on the shelves this month. Or, in one case, an older novel revisited.
Leila Meacham, who became a best-selling author with Roses and most recently Titans and other 600-page Texas epics, wrote three shorter romance novels back in the 1980s that are being reissued in new editions in the next few months.
The first of them, Ryan’s Hand (Grand Central Publishing, $20 hardcover), is set on a West Texas ranch, where a young female Boston librarian has taken up residence against her better judgment as a promise to a dying friend. She and the single, gruff, domineering ranch owner do not hit it off at all — in fact, they can’t seem to stand each other. So you can probably see where this story is headed.
Meacham, as the 2016 A.C. Greene Award winner, will be featured at the West Texas Book Festival in Abilene on Sept. 24.
Linda Castillo continues her popular thriller series set in the Amish country with Among the Wicked (Minotaur Books, $26.99 hardcover). Castillo's newest novel branches out a bit from the regular Ohio setting, however, with Chief of Police Kate Burkholder going undercover in an isolated and secretive Amish community in rural upstate New York.
Castillo fans will find that her newest offering may well be the best yet. If you haven’t read any of her earlier mysteries, go ahead and plunge right in. Once you’ve zipped through one of her novels, you’ll probably want to go back and read the others.
The fourth book in Amarillo novelist Jodi Thomas’s Ransom Canyon series is due out on Aug. 30. Sunrise Crossing (HQN, $7.99) is the third title published this year, following Rustler’s Moon back in January and Lone Heart Pass in April. Thomas’s stories, while technically in the romance genre, make good reading for men as well as women. And although they are part of a series, each title can be read as a stand-alone. A few familiar characters come and go throughout the series.
Abilene’s Karen Witemeyer says she writes historical romances “to give the world more happily ever afters,” and she’s making quite a name for herself with more than 300,000 copies sold and several awards framed. Her latest is No Other Will Do (Bethany House, $14.99 paperback), set in 1882 in a women’s colony in Texas where women in need are offered a fresh start. But when an assailant threatens to drive them out, Emma Chandler sends out a plea for help to a man she knows. She once saved his life; now he has a chance to return the favor.
Fans of Dixie Cash will be excited to know that the fun-loving two-sister writing team is back with an intriguing new title, You Can Have My Heart But Don’t Touch My Dog, set in a gourmet pet food bakery in Midland (available in paperback and e-book).
The tenth book in Diane Kelly’s delightful Death and Taxes series featuring female Dallas IRS agent Tara Holloway is Death, Taxes and a Satin Garter (St. Martin’s, $7.99 paperback). Kelly also has a second mystery series going, Paw Enforcement, starring a Fort Worth police officer and her K-9 partner. Kelly’s stories are always entertaining.
Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at email@example.com.
TEXAS MYSTERY / SUSPENSE
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover, 978-0-544-92095-8 (also available as an ebook, an audio book, and on Audible), 288 pgs., $23.00; July 26, 2016
Anna, Tom, and Jane are sitting down to dinner one night when the doorbell rings. Anna answers the door. “The first thing I see is her pale hair,” thinks Anna, “then her face … there’s something familiar about her.” Julie Whitaker has been gone for eight years, kidnapped from her bedroom at thirteen, “and just like that, the worst unhappens. Julie is home.” As the family tries to move forward, treading lightly, fault lines are exposed. When Anna gets a phone call from a private detective, he adds fuel to her dawning suspicions, and she begins to question this Julie’s identity. Is she or isn’t she? >>READ MORE
Hardcover, 978-1-627-79555-5 (also available as an ebook, an audio book, and on Audible), 320 pgs., $27.00
August 2, 2016
Beautiful and pedigreed Vivienne Cally finds herself thirty years old, still living with her spiteful aunt, and working in a boutique for little more than minimum wage. Born to an oil fortune, Vivienne was orphaned as a very young child, and whatever money remains is controlled by her aunt, who has stipulated that Vivienne won’t see a dime unless she marries well.
Future architect Preston Duffin is drawn to Vivienne, but has neither money nor pedigree. Preston, a scholarship student living in a garage apartment, hangs on the periphery of Vivienne’s privileged crowd, attempting to protect his ego by disdaining his friends’ values with lofty philosophy.
Yvonne Georgina Puig’s debut novel A Wife of Noble Character is inspired by Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth. Puig updates the story, setting it amid Houston’s oil-money elite. It’s a charming and engaging story, but the views of women and marriage don’t mesh with the modern milieu, resulting in a psychological pastiche, inducing a time-warp effect. >>READ MORE
For a decade native Australian Dominic Smith has been writing sweeping novels with a global perspective of history and art from his home in Austin, and his latest, The Last Painting of Sarah de Vos, has garnered acclaim from coast-to-coast in the book world. He graciously took time last week to be interviewed via email for LSLL and spoke with us about writing, coming to Texas, and real-world concerns of authors.
LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Dominic, I’d like to begin with your journey to Texas. You were raised in Australia, but found your way to Texas after stops in Amsterdam and Iowa. Your Iowa time included being selected for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and your Texas time included being selected as a Michener Center Fellow. What surprised you about Texas when you arrived here?
DOMINIC SMITH: I arrived in Austin in the summer of 2000, straight from a mild spring in Amsterdam, so the first thing that struck me about Texas was the shocking summertime heat. The second thing was the friendliness of the people. Texans, like Australians, are generally laid-back and friendly, with a healthy sense of irony. I should point out that in Iowa, I was part of the undergraduate portion of the Writer’s Workshop, which is not quite the same as the prestigious graduate program. Still, it was where I first glimpsed the possibility of becoming a writer. >>READ MORE
The Permian Basin Writers' Workshop returns to Midland this fall, with a diverse lineup of presenters, speakers, agents, editors, and authors. The event kicks off Friday evening, Sept. 16, 7:30–8:30 p.m. at Midland's historic Yucca Theatre and continues throughout Saturday and Sunday on the campus of Midland College.
Author and journalist ReShonda Tate Billingsley will give a keynote presentation Friday evening, “When Words Leave the Page,” as part of a program featuring refreshments and author performances.
Billingsley is the national bestselling author of more than forty books. She writes adult and teen fiction as well as nonfiction. Several of her books have been optioned for movies, including her sophomore novel, Let the Church Say Amen, directed by actress Regina King, and produced by TD Jakes and Queen Latifah. Billingsley made her on-screen movie debut in the film, which aired in August 2015 and was one of BET’s highest rated original programs. TV One recently released the TV version of her book The Secret She Kept on July 10, 2016 and will be airing The Devil is a Lie in fall 2016. >>READ MORE
Tracy Kidder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author hailed as one of America’s greatest nonfiction narrative writers, will be the featured speaker at the Friends of the Dallas Public Library annual gala on Thursday, November 10.
The dinner will be held in O’Hara Hall, part of the newly renovated seventh floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library in downtown Dallas.
Kidder is the author of ten books, including The Soul of a New Machine, an absorbing tale of the development of a new computer, which won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for nonfiction and the National Book Award. His latest work, A Truck Full of Money, scheduled for release September 20, is being praised by Kirkus Reviews as “more engrossing work from a gifted practitioner of narrative nonfiction.” >>READ MORE
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