Lone Star ReviewsMichelle Newby, NBCC,

Contributing Editor


Paul, Richard,
and Steven Moss

We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program

University of Texas Press, 978-0-292-77249-6, hardcover, May 1, 2015

Reviewed by Amy Foster, PhD

President Eisenhower signed the executive order creating the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1958. For the past six decades, that agency has pushed the limits of human presence in space. But the image of NASA’s white, male, pocket protector–toting engineers and technicians who put America’s astronauts into space—the image that we know so well from Tom Wolfe’s iconic book The Right Stuff—misses an important cadre of NASA employees. Finally there is a book to rectify that oversimplified image.

Texas ReadsGlenn Dromgoole

>> archiveAuthor of Arkansas mysteries now writes in Texas

Although her books are still set in Arkansas, popular novelist Joan Hess has called Austin, Texas, home for about five years. When her daughter became pregnant with twins, Hess moved from Fayetteville to Austin and has stayed.

Pride v. Prejudice (Minotaur Books, $25.99 hardcover) is the twentieth book in her Claire Malloy Mystery series, featuring a bookstore owner who is married to the town’s deputy police chief and gets involved in solving murder mysteries. The series is set in the fictional town of Farberville, thought to closely resemble Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas.

Hess also has penned sixteen novels in her Maggody Mysteries series featuring Arly Hanks, the young female police chief in Maggody, Ark., population 755. She said she hopes to get back to the Maggody series in the next year or so.

In Pride v. Prejudice, Claire Malloy gets called for jury duty, only to be singled out for humiliation and rudely dismissed by the prosecuting attorney, who harbors a grudge against her husband.

Bent on revenge, Claire begins investigating the defendant’s case—a woman accused of murdering her husband—in hopes of embarrassing the offending and overly ambitious prosecutor. But the more she learns, the worse it looks for the defendant, in spite of her claims of innocence.

Quite a dog: College Station author Kathi Appelt tells the story of a very special dog in her picture book Mogie: The Heart of the House (Atheneum Books, $17.99 hardcover, illustrated by Mark Rosenthal). The book is based on a dog that actually took up residence at the Ronald McDonald House in Houston.

“Mogie knows when a kiddo needs him,” Appelt writes. “He knows when to sit quietly beside the girl who is suffering from an asthma attack or the boy who has just lost his sister. He knows when a child needs to play fetch or when a staff member needs a quick lick on the cheek.

“He has an innate knowing about being a goofball and a warm companion,” she adds. “Mostly, he is a best pal to whomever needs a best pal at that moment.”

Although Appelt says she is basically a cat person, she also had a successful series of children’s books a few years ago featuring a hound dog named Bo and his pal, baby Bubba.  Appelt, author of more than thirty books, won the A. C. Greene Award in 2009 given to a distinguished Texas author. Read more at kathiappelt.com.

* * * * *

Glenn Dromgoole is co-author of 101 Essential Texas Books. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

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

Four Christian fiction writers from Texas named finalists for 2015 Carol awards

Texans Gillian Bronte Adams, Kelly Irvin, Lisa Wingate, and Karen Witemeyer (noted by asterisks below) have been named among the finalists for the 2015 Carol Awards. The winners will be announced September 19 during the gala awards dinner at the annual American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Dallas.

Look for a special focus on Christian literature in Lone Star Literary Life Sept. 6 and 13, along with special guest Lisa Wingate on Lone Star Listens Sunday, Sept. 6.


Last Family Standing by Jennifer AlLee (Abingdon Press)

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay (HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

* The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House)

>>READ MORE, including full list of finalists

LONE STAR LISTENS interviews   >> archive

Sarah McCoy: On using history as a manual for today

As a child growing up in a military family and a wife who married an Army husband, El Paso author Sarah McCoy has been able to live in many of the settings of her books. From visits to her mother’s relatives in Puerto Rico, to her childhood family stationed in Germany, to settling in at Fort Bliss and El Paso as an military spouse for the past eight years, she’s seen firsthand the places she writes about.

   An adept and active author on social media, McCoy utilized her keyboard to answer our interview questions via email for Lone Star Listens.

LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE: First of all, Sarah McCoy, welcome to Texas. I understand that you have come to Texas because your husband is a military physician at Fort Bliss. What has surprised you about living in Texas and El Paso?

SARAH McCOY: Thanks so much for the warm welcome! I must admit, however, after living here eight years, I feel very much at home in my Texas community. We were in Norfolk, Virginia, in 2007 when my husband received orders to report to Fort Bliss. We’ve been here ever since, which has been one of the biggest surprises—to answer the second half of your question. Military personnel are typically moved around with much more frequency. I consider it a blessing that we’ve stayed for as long as we have. I’ve come to love the great Southwest, its people, stories, and culture.

Mockingbird, Watchman: Texas bookstores celebrate Lee novels with events July 13, 14

To celebrate the July 14, 2015, release of Mississippi novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner Harper Lee's long-awaited novel Go Set a Watchman, Texas chain and independent bookstores have scheduled special events throughout the week.

HPB.com, the blog of Texas-based chain Half Price Books, posted a quiz on "14 Things You Should Know About Harper Lee and To Kill a Mockingbird." Here's one: The book that Scout tells her father about, The Gray Ghost, was a real children’s book by Robert F. Schulkers—part of a series of adventure titles in the 1920s that Lee read when she was young.

On Monday, July 13, starting at 9 a.m., all Barnes & Noble stores invite guests to participate in reading Lee's acclaimed novel To Kill a Mockingbird from start to finish with special guest readers, including authors or local celebrities. (All Texas events are listed here on our Bookish Texas Events page.)   >>READ MORE

Texas football classic Friday Night Lights 25th Anniversary edition debuts in August; author Bissinger in Lone Star Listens Aug. 9

Before the book, the movie, and the TV show, it all started in Odessa, Texas, in 1988. Author H. G. “Buzz” Bissinger returns this fall to the literary landscape that inspired Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream with Da Capo Press’s 25th anniversary edition of the book.

Bissinger (right), a former reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and now author of six books, plans tour dates in Texas Sept. 14-18, 2015. We’ll have more information on his schedule as details become available.

Advertisers and publishers with other fall titles: Special Football Edition of Lone Star Literary Life August 9. Perfect for advertising your Texas football-themed books and titles. For more information, email us at info@lonestarliterary.com  >>READ MORE


Jodi Thomas's Ransom Canyon series to launch this fall; titles from regional and university presses among new offerings

The list below includes all materials received by Lone Star Literary Life during May and June 2015. Notices do not indicate that a title is scheduled for review in a future issue, nor do they preclude a future review or author interview.

Cruz, Kathy

Dateline: Purgatory: Examining the Case That Sentenced Darlie Routier to Death

True crime / Texas

Texas Christian University Press

978-0-87565-610-6, paperback, 224 pgs., $22.95

April 13, 2015

Ethredge, Elizabeth

Cooking with the Texas Poets Laureate


Texas Review Press

978-1-68003-020-4, spiral-bound, 158 pgs., $22.95

May 7, 2015

Falkin, Mark

Contract City


Bancroft Press

978-1-61088-144-9, hardcover, 278 pgs., $22.95

January 1, 2015

Fox, Phoebe

The Breakup Doctor

Women's contemporary fiction

Henery Press

978-1-940976-15-0, paperback, 298 pgs., $15.95

June 1, 2014

Gaines, Grady, with Rod Evans

I've Been Out There: On the Road with Legends of Rock ’n’ Roll

Music biography/history

Texas A&M University Press

978-1-62349-270-0, hardcover, 192 pgs., $23.00

March 16, 2015

Gustafson, Mark

A Naturalist's Guide to the Texas Hill Country

Natural history

Texas A&M University Press

978-1-62349-235-9, flexbound; 360 pgs.; 328 color photos, 3 maps, table, bib., index pgs., $24.95

May 6, 2015

Hafertepe, Kenneth

A Guide to the Historic Buildings of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County

Texas history & travel

Texas A&M University Press

978-1-62349-272-4, flexbound; 376 pgs., 230 color photos, bib., index pgs., $24.95

June 24, 2015

Harelik, Tiffany; foreword by Grady Spears

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

Food and Cooking

American Palate (History Press)

978-1-62619-722-0, paperback; 288 pgs.; recipes and full color photographs throughout pgs., $24.99

October 14, 2014

Henderson, Rebecca

A Stake in West Texas: Pulling a Chain and Raising a Family across Big Oil Country


History Press

9781626193802; paperback; 128 pgs.; with B/W photographs pgs., $19.99

January 21, 2015

Kent, Kathleen

The Outcasts

Historical fiction

Little, Brown (Back Bay Books)

978-0-316-20611-2, paperback, 352 pgs., $16.00

October 1, 2014

Kneese, Carolyn, and John DeMers, with Lynn Ashby

Bragging Rights: The Dallas-Houston Rivalry

Social history

Bright Sky Press

978-1-939055-62-0, 207 pgs., $24.95; hardcover

October 1, 2014

Lansdale, Joe R.

Paradise Sky


Mulholland Books

978-0316329378; hardcover, 416 pgs., $26.00

June 15, 2015

Lukas, T. K.

Orphan Moon (Book One of the Orphan Moon Trilogy)

Historical fiction

Chevalier Publishing

978-0996235617, paperback, 318 pgs.

March 23, 2015

Martinello, Marian L.

Chili Queen: Mi Historia

Historical fiction

Texas Christian University Press

978-0-87565-613-7, paperback, 200 pgs., $22.95

February 29, 2015

Milazzo, Joe, with introduction by Robin Myrick

Crepuscule W/Nellie


Jaded Ibis Press

978-1-937543-60-0, paperback; 408 pgs.

October 30, 2014

Neal, Bill; foreword by Gordon Morris Bakken

Skullduggery, Secrets, and Murders: The 1894 Wells Fargo Scam That Backfired


Texas Tech University Press

978-0-89672-917-9, hardcover, 256 pages; 35 halftones; index  pgs., $34.95

April 1, 2015

Nelson, Willie, with David Ritz

It's a Long Story: My Life


Little, Brown

978-0-316-40355-9; hardcover, 400 pgs., $30.00

May 5, 2015

Paul, Richard, and Steven Moss

We Could Not Fail: The First African Americans in the Space Program


University of Texas Press

978-0-292-77249-6, hardcover, 274 pgs., $30.00

May 1, 2015

Roach, Joyce Gibson

The Land of Rain Shadow: Horned Toad, Texas

Fiction / Texas

Texas Tech University Press

978-0-89672-926-1, paperback, 136 pgs., $24.95

June 15, 2015

Scofield, Sandra

Mysteries of Love and Grief: Reflections on a Plainswoman's Life (Advance Reading Copy)

Creative nonfiction

Texas Tech University Press

978-0-89672-941-4, hardcover, 176 pgs., $29.95

September 1, 2015

Spirit Thom

Petrichor! (Ammil, Pirr, Zwer, Smeuse…)


Phillip Abbott

Saddle-stitched, 40 pgs.

June 1, 2015

Sublett, Jesse

1960s Austin Gangsters: Organized Crime That Rocked the Capital

Texas history

History Press

978-1-62619-840-1, paperback, 176 pgs., $19.99

March 9, 2015

Thomas, Jodi

Ransom Canyon (Advance review copy)

Contemporary romance

HQN Books

978-0-373-78844-6; paperback, 368 pgs., $7.99

September 1, 2015

Tunnell, John W. Jr., and Jace W. Tunnell; forewrod by Thomas R. Hester

Pioneering Archeology in the Texas Coastal Bend: The Pape-Tunnell Collection

Texas archeology

978-1-62349-274-8, hardcover, 384 pgs.; 136 color photos; 10 b/w photos; 8 maps; chart; bib.; index pgs., $50.00

Texas A&M University Press

May 20, 2015

Updegrove, Mark K.; foreword by John Lewis

Destiny of Democracy: The Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library


Briscoe Center for American Studies; distributed by Tower Books of University of Texas Austin

978-0-9885083-3-0; hardcover, 230 pgs,; full color photographs throughout pgs., $39.95

March 15, 2015

Vermillion, Patricia; illustrations by Cheryl Pilgrim

Hound Dawg (Advance review copy)

Children's picture book

Texas Christian University Press

978-0875656151; hardcover, 40 pgs., $21.95

Aug. 31, 2015

West, Nancy G.

Dang Near Dead


Henery Press

978-1-94196-216-9; hardcover, 238 pgs., $31.95

Sept. 30, 2014

Winn, Catherine A.

Beyond Suspicion (A Whispering Springs Mystery)

YA mystery

Poisoned Pencil

978-1-9293-4510-6, paperback, 230 pgs., $10.95

May 5, 2015

Wood, Ernie

One Red Thread


Tyrus Books

978-1-4405-8273-8; hardcover, 336 pgs., $24.99

Nov. 2014

Written and photographed by Deborah Florey

Ethan's Story: How One Child Learned Respect

Children's picture book

My 3 Kids Inc.

Spiral-bound, 30 pgs., $12.99

January 1, 1999

Yarbrough, Paul H.

A Mississippi Whisper


WiDo Publishing

978-1937178581; paperback, 296 pgs., $16.95

December 1, 2014

* * * * *


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 Abilene, the Storybook Capital of Texas, with Shannon exhibition through Sept. 25

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." Shannon is the author/illustrator of Duck on a Bike, No, David! series, Good Boy, Fergus!, A Bad Case of Stripes, and more. The festival draws about 3,000 people each year from all over Texas and beyond. Learn more at www.abilenecalf.com>> LISTEN NOW (mp3)


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COMING SOON: Bookish Texas Classifieds

Looking for a job, a designer, an editor, a publisher?

Starting in June 2015, we'll help you find them in our online classifieds section. If you're interested in advertising for pennies a day, contact ads@LoneStarLiterary.com to run your listing here.

New Lone Star Book Blog Tours takes authors on the virtual road

Despite the wealth of opportunities for audiences to meet authors around Texas any day of the week (witness the dozens of readings and signings in our weekly Bookish Texas list), 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

Coming up this summer. . .


Dateline Purgatory: Examining the Case That Sentenced Darlie Routier to Death (TCU Press, 2015). Award-winning journalist Kathy Cruz (right) enlists current-day legal experts to weigh in on one of the country's most controversial death penalty convictions. CNN’s Death Row Stories, produced by Robert Redford, has slated an episode in its upcoming season to examine the Routier case as well.


The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate (Tyndale House, 2014). In 2015 Christy Award winner and Clifton resident Lisa Wingate’s novel The Story Keeper, successful book editor Jen Gibbs is at the top of her game with her new position at Vida House Publishing—until a mysterious manuscript from an old slush pile appears on her desk. Turning the pages, she finds herself drawn into a place she thought she'd left behind forever, but the price of a blockbuster next book deal may be higher than she's willing to pay.

 Tours will feature scheduled opportunities with blog hosts on a wide range of perspectives. Watch next week’s LSLL for announcements of our participating bloggers.

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20th Texas Book Festival set for Oct. 17–18; Texas Teen Book Festival, Sept. 26

Dates have been set for two of Texas’s most highly anticipated annual book events. The 2015 Texas Book Festival will be held October 17–18, 2015. The Texas Book Festival Weekend is free and open to the public and takes place in Austin, at the state capitol and surrounding grounds.

The roster of participating authors is typically released in late July, along with the announcement of the year’s festival poster.

The Texas Teen Book Festival is one of the largest of its kind in the nation, a highly anticipated annual event in the young adult literature world, drawing some of the most popular authors who write for the age group. >> READ MORE

Cisco Writers Club 39th Annual Summer Writing Contest open for submissions

The Cisco Writers Club 39th Annual Summer Writing Contest is now accepting entries. Writers anywhere may enter; membership in the Cisco Writers Club is not required. Six categories are available, with several special prizes offered.    >> READ MORE