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Lone Star Reviews



Ethredge, Elizabeth

Cooking with the Texas Poets Laureate

Texas Review Press

978-1680030204 Paperback, 158 pages; spiral bound, $22.95, 2015

Reviewed by Rashda Khan


Cooking with the Texas Poets Laureate is a gem. The slim volume contains a bounty of riches in terms of words, wisdom, and recipes. The book features eleven Texas poets laureate — luminaries like Jan Seale, Walt McDonald, Red Steagall, Karla K. Morton, and more — who share their poetry, essays, and family recipes. It is a feast of offerings that you want to take time and savor.


Harelik, Tiffany; foreword by Grady Spears

The Big Bend Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from the Heart of West Texas

American Palate (History Press)

978-1626197220 Paperback, 288 pages; $24.99, 2014


The Big Bend Cookbook is a lush love letter to the remote and wildly beautiful region in southwest Texas. Author Tiffany Harelik has put together a gorgeous collection of photographs, facts, personalities, and recipes.


Photographs showcase natural vistas, flora, and fauna; others highlight regional murals and signs. Harelik has included both historical and contemporary photographs of people and places, adding more depth and interest for the reader. >> READ MORE

  • Fiction

    Sarah McCoy

    The Baker’s Daughter

    Read by Elisabeth Rodgers

    Audible audio edition, 11 hours and 47 minutes, unabridged, $21.95


    The Baker’s Daughter by Sarah McCoy is an entertaining and illuminating exploration of the false dichotomy between loyalty to country and personal conviction. Moving backward and forward in time between World War II Germany and present-day El Paso, Texas, McCoy draws parallels between those who did what they could to help the Jews and those who do what they can to help Central American immigrants.   >> READ MORE

  • Memoir


    Trinity University Press

    Hardcover, 978-1595342591

    320 pages, $24.95

    June 12, 2015


    “[I]in the modern era, there have been only two wildfires, both in California, more vicious and pitiless than the one that changed my life after nearly killing me.”


    Hail of Fire: A Man and His Family Face Natural Disaster is Randy Fritz’s memoir about the Bastrop County, Texas, wildfire of 2011 — the most destructive in Texas history — that incinerated the Lost Pines area (almost fifty-five square miles) and left nearly 1,700 families (including the Fritz family) homeless.


    Fritz viscerally conveys the horror, loss, and regret he experienced. He finds that the John Wayne personality traits that served him well before the fire — antiauthoritarian, argumentative, stubborn, self-absorbed, prideful bordering on hubristic — fail him utterly when depression and the five stages of grief set in. After a diagnosis of PTSD, Fritz finds relief in therapy, surprising himself.   >> READ MORE

Texas Reads

>> archive

Writer gets creative in Texas alphabet book


Writer Maria Kernahan and artist Michael Schafbuch have teamed up to produce a new, very colorful alphabet book, T is for Texas (Dry Climate Studios, $19.95 hardcover). The book explores some different topics than most Texas alphabet books.


For example, B is for Brands, with eighteen brands shown. D is for dancing, which is illustrated by several pair of colorful boots. E is for Enchanted Rock, K for king-sized, illustrated by thirteen other states that fit inside the shape of Texas. The author got pretty creative when it came to X and Z — with X being for roadrunner tracks in the shape of an X, and Z for the zig-zag of the Rio Grande through Big Bend.


Children should be attracted to the large, bright illustrations and the rhyming, easy-to-read  text.


World War II novel: Swift by College Station author Robert A. Shearer is a short, fast-paced historical novel set in Texas in the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, $15 paperback).


“The attack on Pearl Harbor changed the lives of millions of Americans,” Shearer writes. He was three, living with his parents in Dallas, when the war broke out. Soon they were in a small town, where Shearer’s mother said they couldn’t leave their apartment for three weeks. “This is a historical account of how murder, mayhem, morbid racism, mental illness, and mobilization for war changed our lives. Some of the details are fictional, and all of the names of original characters have been changed, so the story is historical fiction, a murder mystery, a chronicle of a case of military justice, and a case study in mental disturbance,” Shearer says. Read more at


Series completed: Abilene novelist Lynn Vadney completes her five-book “The Compound Series” of post-apocalyptic adventure novels with the publication of The Stone Is Turned (Desert Willow Publishing).


The series began with two novels, Sinking Sand and Not the Least Bit Sorry, set two and a half years after massive terrorists’ attacks virtually destroy society.


“The series has been about our nation in crisis,” writes Vadney. “May our leaders, in whatever capacity, remain fearless and dedicated.” The Stone Is Turned covers the period from May to December, three years after the attacks, Vadney notes, and “law and order is gaining a toehold in one small Texas town.”


For more on the series, go to


* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at

>> Check out his previous Texas Reads columns in Lone Star Lit


Are you ready for some football (books)?


Lone Star Literary Life’s Best Texas Football Books special section kicks off Sunday, Aug. 9


Two-a-days, the Twelfth Man, and the Cotton Bowl are just some of the iconic touchstones of Texas culture and by extension Lone Star literature.


On Sun., Aug. 9, we pay tribute to the best Texas football books by interviewing H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger, author of Friday Night Lights, as his publisher releases the 25th anniversary edition of the book. (See his fall event schedule in Texas, below.)





We’d like to bring you in on some coverage as well. (Zone, no blitz). We’re doing an informal poll of the best Texas football books through the years. Titles like Semi-Tough, The Junction Boys, The Hundred Yard War, and Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk come to mind. What are yours?


Email your suggestion to us at, and we’ll publish the poll results in our Aug. 9 issue. And you’ll automatically be entered in a drawing to win a free copy of Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary Edition.


LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive


Elizabeth McCracken: Thunderous praise for Thunderstruck & Other Stories


It's been a big year for the Michener Center's Elizabeth McCracken. In March she won the $20,000 Story prize, the largest first-prize amount of any annual U.S. book award exclusively for fiction, for her short-story collection Thunderstruck & Other Stories (Dial Press, 2014). Earlier this month the Writers' League of Texas selected this collection as its Best Fiction of 2014; it's also been longlisted for the National Book Award.


Lone Star Literary Life: First of all, Welcome to Texas! You’ve been here about five years. What’s surprised you about the state?


Elizabeth McCracken: I always say that Texas is the one place in the world where people are nice to you in stores, and get your jokes. I’m from New England, where people are funny, but, well, crabby. Proudly crabby, I’d say. Nevertheless, my first months in Austin, I was surprised by how many great conversations I had with people—at the mechanic, at the Social Security Office, just anywhere.  >> READ MORE

Bookish Texas event highlights  7.26.2015
>> GO this week   Michelle Newby, Contributing Editor

  • RICHARDSON  Mon., July 27  Alamo Drafthouse, Ernest Cline with his new novel, Armada, 7PM

    Mon., July 27: Alamo Drafthouse, talk, Q&A and book signing of Ernest Cline’s new novel, Armada, 7PM [tickets required].


    Tues., July 28: Cline will also visit BookPeople, Austin, speaking & signing Armada, 7PM


    Sat., Aug. 1: Austin Books and Comics, Ernest Cline to sign Armada, 12PM

  • AUSTIN  Tues., July 27  Cheer Up Charlie's, Everything Is Bigger Poetry Reading, 7:30 PM

    Cheer Up Charlie's, Everything is Bigger reading with poet James Shea, local writer Sarah Rafael García, local poet Jesse Bertron, and special guest Hannah Kenah, 7:30PM

  • SILVERTON  Tues., July 27  Silverton Public Library, Texas Writes, Debra Winegarten & James Haley,

    Silverton Public Library, Texas Writes (a program from Writers' League of Texas) with Debra Winegarten and James Haley, 5PM

  • HOUSTON  Sat., Aug. 1  Blue Willow Bookshop, Adan Medrano will discuss and sign his new cookbook, Truly Texas Mexican, 2PM

    Blue Willow Bookshop, Adan Medrano will discuss and sign his new cookbook, TRULY TEXAS MEXICAN, 2PM

President Jimmy Carter signs at BookPeople Sat., Aug. 1


President Jimmy Carter will be at BookPeople in Austin, Sat., Aug. 1 at 2:30 p.m. to sign his new book, A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (Simon & Schuster, July 2015), a memoir of pride, humor, and a few second thoughts.  Carter has lived one of the great American lives — from rural obscurity to world fame, universal respect, and contentment.

            This is event is a signing only. President Carter will not give a public talk. Tickets are required to join the signing line. Tickets are available to purchase online and in-store. (As of July 27, tickets are still available.)  >>READ MORE

100 authors, creative writing experts, musicians, and performers slated for 7th annual East Texas Book Fest


The seventh annual East Texas Book Fest takes place on Friday, Aug. 21, and Saturday, Aug. 22, in Tyler's Harvey Convention Center, located at 2000 West Front Street, Tyler. The event is free.


One hundred Texas authors who write in many genres and for all ages will display their books and chat with readers.


Cynthia Leitich Smith (left), author of Tantalize, Eternal, Blessed, and more

Don Tate, author and Illustrator of Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton (Sept 2015), It Jes' Happened When Billy Traylor Started to Draw (2012), and more



Chris Rogers, author of Emissary (Nov. 2014), Here Lies A Wicked Man, Write the Scene 3 Easy Ways, Ramp Up Tension 3 Easy Ways, Plot Your Story 3 Easy Ways, and more



Dr. Rene Saldaña, author of Heartbeat of the Soul of the World, Dancing With the Devil and Other Tales of Beyond, ¡Juventud! Growing up on the Border, The Jumping Tree, and more



Ben Fountain (far left), author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk

Thomas McNeely (left), author of Ghost Horse



Mike Blakely, author of A Song To Die For, What Are the Chances, A Tale Out of Luck, Come Sundown, Comanche Dawn, and more



Antonio Ruiz-Camacho (left), author of Barefoot Dogs: Stories

Tracy Dahlby, author of Into the Field: A Correspondent's Notebook



M. J. Mooney, author of The Life and Legend of Chris Kyle: American Sniper, Navy SEAL

M. M. McAllen, author of Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico

Dr. Carlos K. Blanton, author of George I. Sánchez, The Long Fight for Mexican American Integration



Chris Tomlinson, author of Tomlinson Hill and producer of Tomlinson Hill: Are We Equal Yet?


For further information, visit or email   >>READ MORE


David Sedaris coming to Odessa Fri., Nov. 6


Odessa College  and the Odessa Council for Arts & Humanities are partnering to bring David Sedaris to Deaderick Auditorium on Friday, Nov. 6, at 7 p.m. The show is free to the public. Tickets will be available in August.


(Information from Odessa Council for Arts & Humanities)




Bissinger publisher announces Texas signings, events for 25th Anniversary Friday Night Lights


In conjunction with Da Capo Press's Aug. 11 publication of the 25th anniversary edition of  Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream, uathor H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns to Texas for a series of events. The publisher announced the following schedule this week:


Buzz Bissinger Book Events, Fall 2015

  • 9/14/15, Hastings (Odessa, TX), 7 p.m., with support from the Odessa Council for the Arts and Humanities
  • 9/15/15, High School TBD (Midland, TX)—morning or lunchtime solo talk
  • 9/15/15, Midland County Public Library (Midland, TX), Centennial branch, 5:30-6:30 p.m., solo talk, B&N to sell books
  • 9/15/15, Yucca Theater (Midland, TX), 7:30 p.m.—panel moderated by Jay Hendricks, CBS 7 anchor; ticketed event as fundraiser for Midland County Public Library Foundation
  • 9/16/15, Brazos Bookstore (Houston, TX), 7 p.m.
  • 9/18/15, Abilene Public Library (Abilene, TX), 12 p.m., Texas Star Trading Company to sell books
  • 9/19/15, Half Price Books (Dallas, TX), 2 p.m.
  • 9/20/15, BookPeople (Austin, TX), 2 p.m.



Observer: The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed,

envy, manipulation... even crime!

Observer: The Colonel George Trofimoff Story, the tale of America's highest ranking military officer

convicted of spying.

Observer: The Prison People; The Prison Experience

Celebrate the Storybook Capital of Texas, Abilene, with Shannon exhibition


For four years running, downtown Abilene has transformed into a childhood adventure, as the annual Children’s Art & Literacy Festival (CALF) celebrates the work of children's illustrated books. Through Sept. 25 the work of 2015 featured artist David Shannon (right), will be on display at the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature in an exhibition titled "David Goes to the Museum." Visit
>> LISTEN NOW (mp3)




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The Prison Trilogy by Glen Aaron (Amazon Digital Services, paperback, 2015).

The Ronnie Lee and Jackie Bancroft Spencer Morgan Story, a tale of people, greed, envy, manipulation... even crime. When Jackie Bancroft's husband died in 1952, he left her an heiress.

Almost fifty years later, Jackie would marry Ronnie Lee Morgan, a fifty-year old gay interior decorator. Morgan was one of many clients in the active law practice of author Glen Aaron. This unusual marriage lasted until Jackie's mysterious death five years later. Throughout that period, Aaron became entwined in the personal lives and demands of the couple, along with handling many of their legal affairs. This book in Aaron’s Prison Trilogy tells that inside story.

Watch for dates beginning July 30.



Dateline Purgatory: Examining the Case That Sentenced Darlie Routier to Death (TCU Press, 2015).


July 26: Secret Asian Girl

July 27: Because This is My Life, Y’all

July 28: The Crazy Bookseller

July 29: Writings of Author Jas T. Ward





Cliff Hudder, Pretty Enough for You (Texas Review Press, paperback, July 15, 2015, 344 pgs., 978-1680030389). Selected by Lone Star Literary Life as a Best Texas Beach Read 2015. Ne’er-do-well immigration attorney Harrison Bent is trying to juggle an angry wife, an inscrutable stalker, an obsessed girlfriend, and an unsolved murder, while trying to forge a successful outcome to a case that might revive his career and help pay for his autistic son’s special school, and his day has just started. Author Cliff Hudder takes Harrison’s story on the road in a Lone Star Book Blog Tour.



The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House, 2014). 2015 Christy Award Winner


July 28 - Bookishjessp

July 29 - A Novel Reality  >>READ MORE


More about Lone Star Book Blog Tours

with tour coordinator Tabatha Pope
Despite the wealth of opportunities for audiences to meet authors
around Texas any day of the week, it’s not always possible for authors to participate in appearances as often as they’d like, to connect with their readers and fans. Enter the Book Blog Tour. >> READ MORE


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