Book Review, Shadows in the Dust by Suzanne Cass

This novel takes place in Australia and some of the names of things are a little different than I’m used to in the West of the USA, and will be explained as we proceed.

Jenna Smith escaped from a gang of thugs headed by a man named Liam and has been on the run for two years. The thugs killed her father, Joe, in a cruel murder and Liam wanted to take her to a man named Alexander when she escaped. Over time, moving from place to place, she ends up at the Shiralee Cattle Station in the northern part of Australia thinking Liam won’t find her at this isolated place. She goes to work as a jillaroo (female cowgirl or ranch hand), and the crew “musters” the cattle (roundups) for selling and branding, etc. Enter the romance part, which is about two-thirds of the book, when she meets Dan, one of the jackaroos (cowboys or ranch hands).

The story moves along using the ranch setting for the romance until Liam re-enters the picture with some of his thugs and the suspense grows until the climactic end.

The ranch setting, surrounded by desert and a few hills and mountains is well described as are the romantic scenes and as I became more involved in the reading, the better I liked the story. It was well constructed and the suspense and romance make it a fine book. I give it four-and-a-half stars.

New Book Released

Volume 2 of The Sorry Life of Bobby Chase-the-Lord is now available at Amazon (https://www.amazoncom/dp/1726838803) for paperback. The Kindle version is at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07J4BS4W5.

Volume 1 is available for FREE on Nov 7, 8, and 9 at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07K2JS39J. This is the Kindle version.

That’s what I’ve been working on for the last couple of months and they were just posted on Amazon within the last few days. Look in the store if those sites above don’t take you to the books.

Days Without End by Sebastian Barry

I can’t say enough about this novel, Days Without End, by Sebastian Barry. It says on the back cover : “From the two-time Man Booker Prize finalist (Mister) Barry comes a powerful new novel of duty and family set against America’s Indian Wars and Civil War.” That is what it’s about as Thomas McNulty and John Cole, poorest of the poor, join the Army and are sent off to fight the Indians in Wyoming and California. Still young they are mustered out and live as civilians before the Civil War.

The War comes along and they rejoin the Union Army and fight some battles, do time in Andersonville prison, and are set free again. They go to Tennessee to join and help an old Amy buddy bring his tobacco farm back up to par. And there is a surprise or two along the way.

Written in a style like Cormac McCarthy, it is beautifully done in the vernacular or dialect of the narrator, McNulty, the young Irish Boy. Highly entertaining, keeps you turning the page, funny, too. I’ll put this on my Best Books List and give it a five-star rating! Just a great book.

 

Explosion at Donner Pass by Gary McCarthy

This novel is another in the Derby Man series and it is a very exciting one. The Derby Man is hired to catch the saboteurs of the railroad. The bad men are trying to prevent the rails from being laid over Donner Pass to connect to the other half of the intercontinental railroad and it is a dicey project.

Darby Buckingham, the Derby Man, has several narrow escapes in this one as he tracks down the bad guys through thick and thin. Chinese are hired to do most of the work of laying track, building tunnels, and hanging on cliffs to put the road through. On top of the racial problems, the bad guys are doing their best to make sure the job never gets done. It wouldn’t have been completed through the Donner Pass tunnel with the type explosive the builders were using – Dynamite. It wasn’t powerful enough to make much of a dent in the rock. Enter nitroglycerine, and they finished the tunnel before winter prevented it.

Then there was the big explosion of the title, a bridge was blown up and plans had to be reshuffled to accommodate.
Darby had his hands full, but was finally able to overcome the odds.

I really liked this book, the descriptions of the mountains, the people in charge, the Derby Man, the Chinese, everything was terrific, even the action scenes were good.
I give it five stars.

A Report to the King of Spain

In 1527 an expedition set from Spain in five ships with 600 men under the leadership of Panfilo Narvaez (Governor) Second in Command was Alnar Cabeza de Vaca, who wrote the report after he returned to Spain in 1537.

After a couple of stops to re-provision. they set off for Cuba, but the wind drove them on past and to the West Coast of Florida. The Governor replenished after the hurricane and the expedition was down to four hundred men and 80 horses on four ships and a brig. They came to anchor in a bay (Sarasota Bay where they saw a village of Indians. Later, after a discussion (argument) to decide who was going to stay with the ships and who was going to searc the land, it was decided that 300 men, including 40 on horseback, should stay ashore and the remainder in the ships look for Panuco, the Largest Christian settlement in Mexico. Of course Panuco was 1,800 miles distant from Florida. A Lieutenant Caravallo was assigned to lead the ships and the Governor went with the men on land.

Well, that’s the basic setup.

Hell’s Princess by Harold Schechter

Who the heck is Belle Gunness of LaPorte, Indiana, I ask you? Who?

Missus Gunness was the lady (?) who advertised in the Norwegian newspapers for a husband or partner in the early 1900’s. Just make sure you bring your life savings and deposit them in the LaPorte bank where they will be safe. We’ll make a life of it on my large farm [wink, wink]. The last person to respond was Arthur Helgelien who showed up at her door with suitcases in hand. Belle invited him in and kicked out the handyman. She needed his room for Mister Helgelien.

In a short time, Mister Helgelien came up missing. Belle said he had gone back to North Dakota or Minnesota to pick up the rest of his things. Well, he was the last of the ten strangers to check in with Belle to live the life of Riley. She disposed of him just like she did the others – bashed him in the back of the head with an axe or other heavy object, cut off his arms and legs and buried him in the hog compound.

That’s who Belle Gunness was and what she did for recreation. One morning some people/neighbors looked out their window and saw smoke and flames coming from the windows of her house and before anyone could get organized, the house burned to the ground except for the brick walls. They found Belle, maybe, with her little boy resting on her chest and her two little girls in the cellar burned to a frazzle.

Following rumors, the sheriff and others started digging up the yard and found most of the dead men. Arrested for this horrible crime was Art Lamphere, who had lived with Belle off and on and held a grudge against her for owing him money. Art said he was just walking to work when he saw the blaze, but didn’t offer any help or stop to watch the fire. He was arrested and thrown in jail to await trial for murdering Belle and others.

The rest of the story is interesting with various sightings of Belle alive in places hard to believe. And I recommend you read the book to find out what happened.

I give the book five stars. It was easy to read and understand even though there are a ton of characters and I was kept in suspense right up to the end. And I’m still trying to figure it out. Is Belle Gunness alive or maybe not? The book was well researched and has a large bibliography.

True Blue, A Ben Blue Western, by Lou Bradshaw

In this Ben Blue novel, a group of cowboys under the direction of David Fowler and a person or persons back East are into making land claims illegally and selling the property for profit. U.S. Marshal Ben Blue and his MB Ranch were targeted by the outlaws in the first failed attempt to run the scam in northern New Mexico. Blue drives them off and he notifies the authorities in a nearby county to be on the alert. Via telegrams, Blue learns the story of the West Texas Development Association and he takes out to track them down and bring them to justice.

This is an exciting story of Blue chasing and dealing out justice in his way. The description of the area around and north of Taos is great and just enough of it to keep my interest. Mister Bradshaw does a fine job of telling the story with plenty of action along the way. I give him four-and-a-half stars for his valiant effort and look forward to more of Ben Blue.

Cowgirl Up! and More

What’s going on at the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, AZ? Of course, it is Cowgirl Up! Art from the Other Half of the West. On Exhibit March 23-May 13, 2018. It is Art by Women and they are great artists with paintings of Cowboys and Cowgirls, Horses, Scenery, Cattle, Roping and other wonderful pictures. You won’t believe how great they are until you take a gander at them. Don’t Miss it.

And another great event coming up on April 5 in Wickenburg is the Annual Wickenburg Book Festival with authors galore signing and selling their books and some great entertainment. Another Don’t Miss event.

Don’t miss the Tucson Book Festival, one of the greatest in the Nation, March 10-11. Around 150,000 people will be there to check out all the latest books and stuff.

Happy Spring to Everyone!!

Blaze! by Stephen Mertz

J. D. Blaze and wife, Kate, are caught up in a series of crises in this first of a series of eleven books. They find themselves surrounded by Apache Indians and no way out., expecting an all-out attack at any moment. They manage somehow to escape and head for Whiskey Bend. Shucks! All their money was in a couple of saddle bags which were stolen during the fracas and they had to start all over again hiring their guns out for whatever needed to be done. And they move from one gunfight to another over the course of the story.They run into that bitch, Rosa Diablo, and that bandido, Luis Paco. Rosa carves her initials into women she caught before she killed them and Paco was just as bad. Kate and Blaze team up with them and all Hell breaks out.

I thoroughly enjoyed this sexy western and give it four stars. It was fast-paced and an easy read.

 

Variety

I’ve been working on a variety of things, the main one being my writing. Writing Chapter Four of Volume 2 of Bobby Chase-the-Lord and we are progressing pretty good. Since I am a “Pantser” some days it goes well and other days not so well. I will keep on writing.

I must apologize for the name Neil Stephenson because it is NICK STEPHENSON, the originator of “yourfirst10Kreaders.com” site. Good info here.

There are so many people giving out training on publishing that it makes my head swim. They all have videos and articles that take up my time, but I need to learn some of it to assist me in publishing my books.

I enjoy reading and do it a little each day, but I’m far behind on my TBR pile. Maybe this coming weekend I’ll catch up a bit.

HAPPY LABOR DAY everyone!!