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Lone Star Reviews


Bookjoy, Wordjoy

Pat Mora, illustrated by Raúl Colón

Lee & Low Books

Hardcover, (978-1-6201-4286-8), 32 pgs., $18.95; August 7, 2018


Bookjoy, Wordjoy is the newest collection of poetry for children from Pat Mora, recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Texas Institute of Letters and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Texas at El Paso, among many distinctions. Especially in Texas, y’all may know her best as the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day (in Spanish, El día de los niños, El día de los libros), which celebrated its twenty-second anniversary this year.


Raúl Colón’s whimsical, joyful illustrations are inspired by Mora’s poems and Mexican painter Rufino Tamayo. The colors are rich but muted, reminding me of a child’s colored map pencils. One of my favorites in this book is a boy attempting to capture words with a butterfly net as they cavort through the air:


words that move, like wiggle

that have a brown scent, cinnamon

that sweetly stretch, car-a-mel

hard words, brick

soft words, lullaby


Mora describes “bookjoy” as the fun of reading and “wordjoy” as the fun of writing — listening to words, combining them and playing with them.  >>READ MORE


Chris Barton

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan

Beach Lane Books

Hardcover, 978-1-4814-6561-8 (also available as an e-book), 48 pgs., $17.99

September 25, 2018

“When Barbara Jordan talked, we listened.” —Former President of the United States, Bill Clinton


The late Honorable Barbara Jordan grew up in Houston’s Fifth Ward. “She may have looked like other kids … acted like other kids,” Chris Barton writes. “But she sure didn’t sound like other kids. Not with that voice of hers.”


Y’all remember that voice, yes? Sounded like the voice of God, deep and rich, sounded like the voice of moral authority, the voice of profoundly felt convictions. “That big, bold, booming, crisp, clear, confident voice,” in Barton’s words. “It caused folks to sit right up, stand up straight, and take notice.”


What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? The Story of Extraordinary Congresswoman Barbara Jordan is the new picture book from Austinite Chris Barton, author of the best-selling Shark vs. Train, Sibert Honor–winning The Day-Glo Brothers, and Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List books The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (2016–17) and Whoosh!: Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions (2017–18).


When I spoke with Barton a few weeks ago, he called Jordan “a true Texas hero” whose career in the Texas Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, and on the faculty of the LBJ School of Public Affairs “set a shining example of how to take a natural gift and put it to use for the benefit of one’s community, state, and nation.”


The phrase “What do you do with a voice like that?” is a refrain throughout the book.  >>READ MORE


Pat Dunlap Evans

Out and In: A Novel

A. M. Chai Literary

Paperback, 978-0-9968822-2-4; 316 pages, $11.99; April 2016


Austin author Pat Dunlap Evans had specific goals in mind when she penned this book, her second: “I wanted to try my hand at a page-turner mystery with a female protagonist. I also wanted to use my long-ago experiences as an NFL wife as a backdrop for a novel.”


Her mystery-thriller Out and In succeeds on those fronts, and on other fronts as well.


The well-written tale starts quickly and with a bang: a Dallas arts society maven, Marie Donovan, is charged with capital murder and jailed after a famed opera orchestra conductor, Luca Scarlatti, is found dead. Scarlatti, the maestro of the Metroplex Opera, has been shot with Marie’s gun and stabbed with one of her long hairpins, which has a nerve agent on it. Meanwhile, some of Marie’s clothes have gunshot residue. And it is well known that she and the lecherous Scarlatti did not get along. >>READ MORE



Kyle Longley

LBJ’s 1968: Power, Politics, and the Presidency in America's Year of Upheaval

Cambridge University Press

Hardcover, 978-1-1071-9303-1, (also available as an e-book), 374 pgs., $29.99; February 22, 2018

Reviewed by Dr. Chris Manno


Longley’s narrative LBJ’s 1968 is so compelling from page one that by chapter three the reader has to stop to remember that it’s not actually about President Lyndon B. Johnson. Rather, the text is a riveting and, in many places horrifying, account of the year 1968 as Johnson wrestled with, in his own words, “that bitch of a war on the other side of the world” while struggling to lead a nation torn apart by antiwar and civil-rights protests and riots. >>READ MORE


Texas Reads

>> archive


New children’s books from three Texas authors


Penguin & Tiny Shrimp Don’t Do Bedtime by Cate Berry of Austin (Harper Collins, $17.99 hardcover, illustrated by Charles Santoso) is not a book about bedtime. Of course it’s not.


It’s a book about fireworks, running from lions, flying hot air balloons, sailing shark-infested waters. It’s a book about songs and corny jokes and staying up late until the hippo yawns. And everyone gets sleepy. And zzzzzzz.


But it’s not a book about bedtime.


Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies by Carmen Oliver of Round Rock (Capstone, $14.95 hardcover, illustrated by Jean Claude) finds Alelaide wanting to bring Bear to school.


Mrs. Fitz-Pea is assigning everyone in class a reading buddy. Adelaide sets out to convince the teacher that she already has a reading buddy, Bear, and that bears make the best reading buddies.


She makes a strong case, but is it enough to convince Mrs. Fitz-Pea?


Ben’s West Texas Snow by Callie Metler-Smith of Stamford (Clear Fork Publishing, $17.99 hardcover, illustrated by Christee Curran-Bauer) is a story about Ben, who lives in West Texas.


There’s a lot that Ben likes about West Texas, such as eating watermelon and fishing for catfish, but he really wishes it would snow.


Pop takes him into a field and they plow and plant cotton and wait for it to grow. Ben waits and waits and waits, and finally, one day, the field is full of soft “snow” — well, at least the West Texas version.


Berry, Oliver and Metler-Smith will speak at this weekend’s West Texas Book Festival in Abilene, discussing “Writing and Publishing Children’s Books” at 10:30 a.m. Saturday (Oct. 20) at the Abilene Woman’s Club. For a complete festival schedule, go to the Abilene Public Library website.


Political biography: Speaker Jim Wright: Power, Scandal, and the Birth of Modern Politics is a comprehensive, even-handed 400-page political biography of the Fort Worth congressman who rose through the ranks to become Speaker of the House, only to be forced to resign in 1989 after a partisan ethics investigation (University of Texas Press, $35 hardcover).


Author J. Brooks Flippen interviewed Wright extensively before his death in 2015 and was granted access to his personal diaries in preparing his narrative on Wright’s long, productive and controversial career, including twelve years as majority leader and Speaker.


The biography is divided into four parts: The Rise of a Politician (up to 1954); Congress in an Age of Tradition (1954–68); Leadership in an Age of Dynamism (1968–80); and Victory and Defeat in the Age of Reagan (1980–2015).


“To understand Jim Wright in all his complexity, with all his flaws and mistakes, all his strengths and triumphs,” Flippen writes, “is to understand much of the American past and the politicians who guided it. The story of Jim Wright, whether a tragedy or triumph, is a story of America.”


* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.


>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Literary Life





Twig’s Top Ten Bestsellers

September 2018

What are Texans reading these days, you ask? Lone Star Lit’s newest regular feature is a monthly list of trending titles at the Twig Book Shop, a leading independent bookseller in San Antonio. Click on any title for the Buy link. And we'll also include a hotlink to related content in Lone Star Literary Life.


1  Bob Woodward, Fear: Trump in the White House, 978-1-501175513

2  Mimi Swartz, Ticker: The Quest to Create an Artificial Heart, 978-0-804138001

3 Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen, 978-1-250193168

4  Phil Knight, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike, 978-1-501135929

5  Chip Dameron, Mornings with Dobie’s Ghost, 978-1-609405773

6 HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Mental Toughness, 978-1-633694364

7  Andrew Sean Greer, Less, 978-0-31631613X

8  Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale, 978-0-38549081X

9  Yuval Noah Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, 978-0-062316117

10  Kevin Kwan, China Rich Girlfriend, 978-0-804172064






8.19.18   Fort Worth Poetry Society seeks submissions from poets and visual artists for an anthology on classical music, proceeds from which will benefit the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra. No cost to enter; accepted submitters receive a free copy of the anthology. This link to the FWPS website provides complete details: https://fortworthpoetrysociety.wordpress.com/2018/07/23/call-for-submissions/.





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10.14.2018   Austin author and agent Mark Falkin on the influences of horror and his newest novel, THE LATE BLOOMER



There’s something about October with its longer shadows and shorter days, chilling winds and rustling leaves that evokes an undercurrent of things going bump in the night — sometimes during the day, as well. Fittingly in the month of All Hallows’ Eve, we feature the author of The Late Bloomer, a new post-apolcalyptic horror novel which takes place on October 29 in Texas. So pull up your bowl of candy corn and meet Austin author and literary agent Mark Falkin, and see what suspense his new book has in store for you.


LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: Tell us about The Late Bloomer, Mark — what’s the novel about?


MARK FALKIN: An ordinary young man in extraordinary circumstances: the world experiences an abrupt and unthinkable cataclysm on the morning of October 29, 2018. Austinite Kevin March, high school band trombonist and want-to-be writer playing early morning hooky, is witness to its beginning, though he isn’t as shocked by it as he thinks he should be or wishes he could be — these dreams he’s been having; this story that he wrote; his little brother’s night terrors and sleepwalking.


Surprised or not, Kevin now not only finds himself pitted against forces these changes have wrought in order to survive, but soon discovers that he may have a crucial role in this new world, one that he is reluctant to play. To stay alive, Kevin embarks on a journey that promises to change everything yet again. On his journey, into a digital recorder he chronicles his experiences at the end of his world. This book is a transcript of that recording. Depicting an unspeakable apocalypse unlike any seen in fiction — there are no zombies, viruses or virals, no doomsday asteroid, no aliens, no environmental cataclysm, no nuclear holocaust—with a Holden Caulfieldesque protagonist at his world’s end, The Late Bloomer is both a companion piece to Lord of the Flies and a Bradburyian Halloween tale. >>READ MORE


Texas's only statewide, weekly calendar of book events
Bookish Texas event highlights  10.14.2018
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor



  • Inkstravagaza Gala: The Writers Life, San Antonio, October 18
  • Teachers, Write! Workshop for Language Arts Teachers, Houston, October 18-19
  • Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, Bryan, October 18-20
  • West Texas Book Festival, Abilene, October 18-20
  • Indiepalooza, Houston, October 19-20
  • The Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) Presents“Write to Publish: Climbing Toward Success!”, DeSoto, October 20
  • Mid-Cities Teen Book Fest, North Richland Hills, October 20
  • Fort Worth BookFest, October 20
  • EPCC Literary Fiesta, El Paso, October 20
  • San Anto Zine Fest, October 20
  • 13th annual Buns & Roses Romance Tea for Literacy, Richardson, October 21



  • Literary Frontiers: Historical Fiction & the Creative Imagination, San Marcos, August 1-December 14
  • “Dawoud Bey: Forty Years in Harlem” photography exhibition (from the book Dawoud Bey: Seeing Deeply), Austin, August 29-December 8
  • The Texas Liberator: Witness to the Holocaust exhibition (from the book The Texas Liberators: Veteran Narratives from World War II), Houston, September 7-October 28
  • Texas Writers exhibition, Fort Stockton, October 1-22
  • Traversing Dimensions: An Exploration of Diversity in Science Fiction, Austin, October 1-31
  • Finding Sophie Blackall Exhibition, Abilene, October 11-February 1


AUSTIN  Mon., Oct. 15 BookPeople, MARION WINIK speaking & signing The Baltimore Book of the Dead, 7PM


BEAUMONT Mon., Oct. 15  Sunrise Records, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN PLANO  Wed., Oct. 17 Piranha Records, Houston Rap Tapes in-store, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN CORPUS CHRISTI  Thurs., Oct. 18 PRODUCE®, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN CORPUS CHRISTI  Thurs., Oct. 18 PRODUCE®, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN MARFA  Fri., Oct. 19  Marfa Book Company, Houston Rap Tapes with Lance Scott Walker, 7PM

ALSO SIGNING IN SAN ANTONIO  Sat., Oct. 20  Friends of Sound Records, Houston Rap Tapes book launch, 6PM

ALSO SIGNING IN HOUSTON  Sun., Oct. 21  Brazos Bookstore, Lance Scott Walker discussing and signing HOUSTON RAP TAPES, 5PM


DALLAS  Tues., Oct. 16  Klyde Warren Park, The Wild Detectives' Locals Only Book Club hosts Harry Hunsicker and The Devil's Country, 6PM


DALLAS  Wed., Oct. 17  Congregation Anshai Torah, Dallas Jewish Bookfest presents Mohammed Al Samawi discussing and signing The Fox Hunt, 7PM


AUSTIN  Thurs., Oct. 18   Harry Ransom Center, Michael Ondaatje presents selections from Warlight, 6PM


DALLAS  Thurs., Oct. 18  Aaron Family JCC, Dallas Jewish Bookfest presents Mitch Albom discussing and signing The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, 7PM


SAN ANTONIO  Thurs., Oct. 18 The Twig Book Shop, Char Miller discussing and signing San Antonio: A Tricentennial History, 5PM


ALPINE  Fri., Oct. 19  Front Street Books, Lonn Taylor signing Marfa for the Perplexed, 6PM


DALLAS  Sun., Oct. 21  Interabang Books, Mark Falkin reading and signing THE LATE BLOOMER, 2PM


RICHARDSON  Sun., Oct. 21  Hyatt Regency North Dallas, Buns and Roses Romance Tea with Jodi Thomas, 2PM


SAN MARCOS  Sun., Oct. 21  The Wittliff Collections, book release event featuring Bill Wittliff’s Devil’s Fork, 2PM


News Briefs 10.14.18

West Texas Book Festival honors Dromgoole with A. C. Greene Award, brings a full slate of programming to Abilene Oct. 18–20


ABILENE — The long-running West Texas Book Festival returns to Abilene in 2018 with a robust lineup of activities October 18–20. One perennial festival highlight, the Books & Boots Luncheon, will honor journalist, author, bookseller, and publisher Glenn Dromgoole with the festival’s prestigious A. C. Greene Award.


The full festival lineup is as follows.


Texas Cookbook Gala

Thursday, October 18, Abilene Country Club Dinner begins, 6 p.m.


The gala features incredible vintners and featured cookbook author Sarah Penrod. Penrod is an award-winning 7th-generation Texan, professional chef, and TV personality who charmed audiences as the vivacious and warm-hearted Texpert on The Next Food Network Star! Penrod’s cookbook, Urban Cowgirl, celebrates modern Southern culture with decadent Texas recipes.


Boots & Books Luncheon

Saturday, October 20, Abilene Woman’s Club

Doors open, 11:30 a.m. | Lunch, 12 p.m. | Book signing, 1:15 p.m.


The A.C. Greene Award is presented annually to a distinguished Texas author for a lifetime achievement. The A.C. Greene Award is named for author, columnist, and Abilene native, A.C. Greene.


This year, the West Texas Book Festival is proud to honor Glenn Dromgoole as the 2018 A.C. Greene Award recipient. As a tribute to his literary memoirs, Glenn has written a new book called Book Guy: One Author’s Adventures in Publishing. “You’ve probably heard me say that every book tells at least two stories — the story inside the covers of the book, and the story outside the covers,” says Dromgoole. “In Book Guy, I focus on the stories outside the covers of my thirty (now thirty-one) books and some others that I’ve helped publish.”  >>READ MORE


$1,200 and title up for grabs at 8th Texas Grand Slam


BRYAN — The Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival is a three-day poetry feast featuring forty-two poets competing for a grand prize of $1,200 and the title: Texas Grand Slam Poetry Champion.


The Last Chance Slam is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, October 18 at Lupa’s Coffee; the preliminary slams and semi-finals begin at 6 p.m. at The Palace, Revolution Cafe and Bar, and The Village on Friday, October 19; the final stage, which consists of three rounds of competition, opens at 7 p.m. on Saturday, October 20 at the Rudder Theatre. >>READ MORE


Borderplex community celebrates books October 20


EL PASO — The tenth annual El Paso Community College Literary Fiesta takes place Saturday, October 20, 2018. The fiesta will be held from 12 to 5 p.m. at the El Paso Public Library at 501 N. Oregon Street.


This year’s author lineup includes Sylvia Aguilar-Zéleny, Marina Monsisvais, Larry Welsh, Bruce Berman, Lisa McNiel, David Romo, and Emmy Pérez. The fiesta will feature a children’s corner and awards, games, workshops, readings, a book fair, a haunted house, crafts, and plenty of refreshments.


According to their website, El Paso Community College Literary Fiesta is an annual festival which celebrates literacy in the Borderplex. The fiesta strives to raise awareness of literary accomplishments, recognizes those supporting literacy in the community, and works to enrich readers of every age.  >>READ MORE


 ——­——— A D V E R T I S E M E N T —————

Lone Star Listens compilation available fall 2018, for readers, fans, and writers everywhere


The present generation of Texas authors is the most diverse ever in gender, age, and ethnicity, and in subject matter as well.


Week in, week out, Lone Star Literary has interviewed a range of Texas-related authors with a cross-section of genre and geography. To capture this era in Texas letters, we're pleased to bring you


Lone Star Listens:

Texas Authors on Writing and Publishing

edited by Kay Ellington and Barbara Brannon; introduction by Clay Reynolds

Available in trade paper, library hardcover, and ebook Summer 2018

360 pages, with b/w illustrations and index


Featuring novelists, poets, memoirists, editors, and publishers, including:

Rachel  Caine • Chris  Cander • Katherine  Center • Chad S. Conine • Sarah  Cortez • Elizabeth  Crook • Nan  Cuba • Carol  Dawson • Patrick  Dearen • Jim Donovan • Mac Engel • Sanderia  Faye • Carlos Nicolás Flores • Ben Fountain • Jeff  Guinn • Stephen  Harrigan • Cliff  Hudder • Stephen Graham Jones • Kathleen Kent • Joe R. Lansdale • Melissa Lenhardt • Attica Locke • Nikki  Loftin • Thomas  McNeely • Leila  Meacham • John  Pipkin • Joyce Gibson Roach • Antonio  Ruiz-Camacho • Lisa  Sandlin • Donna  Snyder • Mary Helen Specht • Jodi  Thomas • Amanda Eyre Ward • Ann  Weisgarber • Donald Mace Williams


As a collection of insights into the writing and publishing life, the book will be useful in creative writing classes (not just in Texas alone) and other teaching settings, as well as for solo reading and study—and a great Texas reference volume.


  • Examination and review copies will be available fall 2017 in watermarked pdf format.



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