Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Lone Star Blog Tour: ONCE UPON A CAMEL by Kathi Appelt ***REVIEW & GIVEAWAY***


ONCE UPON A CAMEL
by Kathi Appelt

Categories: Middle Grade Fiction / Historical / Friendship / Ages 8-12
Publisher: Atheneum / Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 
Pub Date: September 7, 2021
Pages: 336 pages

***Scroll down for the Giveaway!***



Zada is a camel with a treasure trove of stories to tell. She’s won camel races for the royal Pasha of Smyrna, crossed treacherous oceans to new land, led army missions with her best camel friend by her side, and outsmarted a far too pompous mountain lion.

But those stories were from before. Now, Zada wanders the desert as the last camel in Texas. But she’s not alone. Two tiny kestrel chicks are nestled in the fluff of fur between her ears—kee-killy-keeing for their missing parents—and a dust storm the size of a mountain is taking Zada on one more grand adventure. And it could lead to this achy old camel’s most brilliant story yet.

 




Once Upon a Camel by Kathi Appelt is an adorable story about a camel name Zada who (in her very old age), uses her gift of storytelling to help comfort and save two baby kestrels who were separated from their parents.  Zada, whose adventure began in Symrna, Turkey and ends in West Texas, takes us on two adventures.  The first is her current journey of saving these two baby birds in the present day, and the second is how she and her best friend Asiye (two racing camels in the Turkish desert), became pack camels for the US Army in Texas.  Through her storytelling, Zada keeps the baby kestrels distracted from the fact that they have lost their parents and don't know if they will ever see them again. It takes all of Zada's strength (literally) and love to make it through her most difficult adventure yet.

I loved how Appelt tells a story within a story.  Going back and forth from Zada's youth to present day.  Weaving her adventures for the baby kestrels in her care, all the while educating the reader on how camels came to Texas in the first place.  There are many facts about places, animals, and events in history that Appelt intertwines in her storytelling.  From the habits and anatomy of camels to how camel caravans helped transport goods from central Texas to southern California.  Appelt infuses facts and history into her story that creates a dual experience of fact and fiction.  I also enjoyed how the use of Turkish and French sayings were incorporated throughout the book. It gave authenticity to the setting and backgrounds of the characters.  The beautiful charcoal illustrations by Eric Rohmann gives life to Zada's story and helps the reader visualize the characters and experience the most important moments of her adventures.

Once Upon a Camel is a beautiful tale about life, friendship, and family.  A heartwarming tale for readers of all ages!  A must have your home or school library! 

5 Stars!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐




Kathi Appelt is the author of the Newbery Honoree, National Book Award finalist, and bestselling The Underneath as well as the National Book Award Finalist The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Maybe a Fox (with Alison McGhee), Keeper, and many picture books including Counting Crows and Mogie, the Heart of the House. She lives in College Station, Texas, with her husband and five gifted and talented cats.  





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Saturday, August 7, 2021

Lone Star Blog Tour: UNDER THE BAYOU MOON by Valerie Fraser Luesse ***Read an Excerpt & Enter the Giveaway!***


UNDER THE BAYOU MOON
by
Valerie Fraser Luesse

Categories: Fiction / Christian / Historical
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: August 3, 2021
Number of Pages: 352

***Scroll down for the giveaway!***



When Ellie Fields accepts a teaching job in a tiny Louisiana town deep in bayou country in 1949, she knows her life will change--but she could never imagine just how dramatically.

Though rightfully suspicious of outsiders, who have threatened both their language and their unique culture, most of the residents come to appreciate the young and idealistic schoolteacher, and she's soon teaching just about everyone, despite opposition from both the school board and a politician with ulterior motives. Yet it's the lessons Ellie herself will learn--from new friends, a captivating Cajun fisherman, and even a legendary white alligator haunting the bayou--that will make all the difference.

Take a step away from the familiar and enter the shadowy waters of bayou country for a story of risk, resilience, and romance.



 
PROLOGUE FROM
UNDER THE BAYOU MOON
BY VALERIE FRASER LUESSE

Prologue
1947

    Raphe Broussard was just a boy when he first saw it—glimpsed it, at least. Mostly hidden in the saw grass and canes, it had temporarily left the tip of its long alabaster tail exposed in the sunlight—a rare mistake. The streak of white offered only a hint of what lay hidden, the promise of what might be revealed. Raphe had watched silently, reverently almost, as the tail thrashed back and forth just once before disappearing into the green, leaving him to wonder if he had truly seen it at all. He told no one.
    Over the years, Raphe would return to that secluded spot whenever his mind was troubled, as it was now. He had a choice to make, and it was weighing on him that day as he paddled deep into the bayou, gliding across remote but familiar waters where the pines and cypress trees towered above. They cast this solitary pool in perpetual shade as if a veil had been tossed over the sun, not blocking its hot rays entirely but reducing them to a warm softness. The water was glassy, carpeted around the edges with water hyacinth and duckweed. Floating here on still waters, in a pirogue carved out of a cypress tree by his grandfather, Raphe could quiet his mind and think. He could come to a decision about a thing.
Should he give up his freedom and become a father to his orphaned nephew, or listen to that preacher? Most of the evangelicals who had come into the Atchafalaya Basin seemed well-meaning enough, but there was a particularly strident one, Brother Lester, who had somehow gotten wind of Raphe’s plight and urged him to give Remy, his blood kin, to a “good Christian family”—strangers. The child needed a mother and father, the preacher said. A single young man like Raphe—Cajun, Catholic, and therefore prone to drink—would surely be a bad influence.
    Raphe imagined himself as a young father with no wife, limiting his own possibilities while praying he didn’t make some horrible mistake that ruined his nephew’s life. And then he pictured a choice he found completely unbearable—trying to live with the expression on Remy’s face, the one that would haunt Raphe forever if he let strangers take the boy away.
    That heartbreaking image—of a child realizing he had been abandoned by the one person he trusted most—was burning Raphe’s brain when the alligator appeared. It came out of the cattails at the water’s edge and silently glided in. What a sight! The alligator had to be twelve feet long and pure white except for a single swirl of pigment trailing down its back like curled ribbon. It passed so fearlessly close to Raphe that he could see the piercing sparkle of its blue eyes. On the far bank, it climbed onto a fallen tree in dappled light, taking in as much sun as its pale skin could tolerate.
Raphe had never put much stock in the swamp legends that the old-timers recounted again and again around campfires. He loved the tales about the white alligator, but they were just entertainment, nothing more. Still, he was comforted by the notion that this enigmatic denizen of the bayou was keeping watch while he wrestled with Remy’s fate and his own conscience.
    As he sat silently in his pirogue, the massive white head slowly turned, almost in his direction but not quite. In the filtered light, Raphe could see one side of the alligator’s face, one of those sapphire eyes. Only a few seconds passed before it turned back, gliding slowly across the tree and silently disappearing into the canes.
    Fishermen and hunters along the river called the alligator L’esprit Blanc, French for what the Indians had named it—“The White Spirit.” It was strange—all of them knew about L’esprit Blanc, repeating stories they had heard for years, but all those who claimed to have actually seen it were taken by the storm. All except Raphe. While his neighbors speculated about the high price such a rare hide would fetch—if it truly existed—Raphe found it impossible to believe that anyone who laid eyes on something so extraordinary could bring himself to kill it. Still, he kept his sightings to himself.
Raphe looked up at a darkening sky. Rain was coming. He sat in his boat, listening to the wind stir the trees overhead and watching ripples begin to roll across the mirrored surface of the water. His choice was clear.

    He would never tell a soul where to hunt the white alligator. And he would never send Remy away. Some things belonged right where they were.


CONTINUE READING STARTING 8/8/21 ON FORGOTTEN WINDS BLOG







Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac, Almost Home, and The Key to Everything, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave.
  
Website ║ Facebook  ║ Blog 


 

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8/3/21

Notable Quotable

All the Ups and Downs

8/3/21

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8/4/21

Author Interview

The Book's Delight

8/4/21

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways Blog

8/5/21

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StoreyBook Reviews

8/6/21

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Tangled in Text

8/7/21

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Stories Under Starlight

8/8/21

Excerpt

Forgotten Winds

8/9/21

Review

The Adventures of a Travelers Wife

8/10/21

Top Five

Chapter Break Book Blog

8/11/21

Review

Jennie Reads

8/12/21

Review

The Plain-Spoken Pen

8/12/21

BONUS Review

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Lone Star Blog Tour: THE NATURE OF SMALL BIRDS by Susie Finkbeiner ***AUTHOR INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY***

THE NATURE OF SMALL BIRDS
BY SUSIE FINKBEINER

Publisher: Revell
Pub Date: July 6, 2021
Pages: 368 pages
Categories: Fiction / Christian / General

***Scroll for Giveaway!***


In 1975, three thousand children were airlifted out of Saigon to be adopted into Western homes. When Mindy, one of those children, announces her plans to return to Vietnam to find her birth mother, her loving adopted family is suddenly thrown back to the events surrounding her unconventional arrival in their lives. 

Though her father supports Mindy's desire to meet her family of origin, he struggles privately with an unsettling fear that he'll lose the daughter he's poured his heart into. Mindy's mother undergoes the emotional rollercoaster inherent in the adoption of a child from a war-torn country, discovering the joy hidden amid the difficulties. And Mindy's sister helps her sort through relics that whisper of the effect the trauma of war has had on their family--but also speak of the beauty of overcoming. 

Told through three strong voices in three compelling timelines, The Nature of Small Birds is a hopeful story that explores the meaning of family far beyond genetic code. 

"Susie Finkbeiner has such an inviting and distinctive voice as a writer that you'll gladly follow it--and follow her--to any setting."--Valerie Fraser Luesse, Christy Award-winning author of Under the Bayou Moon

PURCHASE LINKS: 



“What happened to the kids?”

In this video, author Susie Finkbeiner shares the stories that led to her writing her stories.


Susie Finkbeiner is the CBA bestselling author of All Manner of Things, which was selected as a 2020 Michigan Notable Book, and Stories That Bind Us,as well as A Cup of Dust, A Trail of Crumbs, and A Song of Home. She serves on the Fiction Readers Summit planning committee, volunteers her time at Ada Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and speaks at retreats and women's events across the country. Susie and her husband have three children and live in West Michigan. 

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Copy of The Nature of Small Birds
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7/13/21 

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7/14/21 

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7/14/21 

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7/15/21 

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7/16/21 

Review 

7/17/21 

Top Ten 

7/18/21 

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7/19/21 

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7/21/21 

Review 

7/22/21 

Review 


 
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