Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Ray Saunders, Author Of Winds West

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Ray Saunders. He’s here to share not only his novel, Winds West, but also a mostly non-fiction account of frontier life in Colorado (Gunnison Country) written by his mother, Betty Wallace. Don’t forget to check out the ebook giveaway at the end of the post!

What mystery in your own life could be a plot for a book?

No real mystery in my past, but Alternate History would be me having decided to be a poet instead of a computer maven. It would be a very convoluted plot, involving Greenwich Village, off-grid living in the Rockies and becoming God.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold?

The lost contents of the Library of Alexandria and every poet since 500BC.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

I would prefer to forget my teen years, but if I had to pick it would probably be the 1920s for the radical politics.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?

Liza from Winds West would get along well with Sayward Luckett from Conrad Richter’s The Awakening Land trilogy. Both were strong women who knew what they wanted and had the courage to go after it.

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The movies Amalie or Casablanca. And any of Maurice Walsh’s writingThe Quiet Man, The Small Dark Man, Trouble in the Glen, etc. (I love the way the Irish use the English language, both in prose and poetry. The Scots, on the other hand, use English like they still hold a grudge over Culloden).

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

The Americas before European contact.
Central Asia before Islam.
Celtic Europe before Caesar.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Picasso’s Guernica – displayed as publicly as possible.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

John Masters, Maurice Walsh, Stephen Vincent Benet, Charles Bowden and A.A.Milne.

We’d all eat pizza. And drink lots of wine.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I always gush over my favorite writers at every opportunity, to the point of irritating those who’ve heard me for the umpteenth time. (I think it’s more awkward for them than for me). Don’t know if this counts, but a young lady wrote a glowing review of Winds West, albeit expressing surprise at my “uncanny insight into the female psyche”. LOL

Places to Find Ray Saunders

Website

Steele Park Press Facebook

Ray’s Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

About the Author:

I grew up in a small western town, steeped in both pioneer culture and writing, my mother being a reporter, editor, English teacher and local historian. By the time I finished high school I was well versed in poetry and the Beat Generation, properly prepared to appreciate the ‘60s in Greenwich Village, which added folk music to the mix. To pay the bills, I spent 50 years doing cutting-edge computer work, then retired and now I’m back to writing poetry and songs and the occasional novel.

Book Blurb for Winds West

Home maker at 10, grown at 15 – what future awaits Liza as she head West? Young woman goes West on a voyage of self-discovery. “Winds West is a thoughtful account of Liza Woods, a young woman’s coming of age story set in early 20th century Ohio. At 13, Liza takes a job as a governess/housekeeper, but has a wisdom beyond her years. She yearns for the freedom generally afforded only to men, however, and what follows is her subsequent journey to Colorado, where she settles down, making a life for herself on the frontier.” – Granny’s Pantry review.

Book Blurb for Gunnison Country:

History of Gunnison Colorado and surrounding areas. Betty Wallace was born near Lake City, CO, in 1913. She spent her youth among the ranchers and miners who settled the Gunnison Country. Herself a child of pioneers, she understood the world they faced and how they coped. As a reporter and editor she worked to preserve the stories of those early days, from the displacement of the Native American by gold-seekers to the uranium prospectors of the 1950s. She researched the old newspapers and interviewed many Old Timers in a tireless effort to make sure their stories were preserved for future generations.

GIVEAWAY!

Ray is offering up one ebook copy of Winds West and one ebook copy of Gunnison Country. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments to be entered into the giveaway. 1) What special collections would the library of your dreams hold? 2) Which book would you prefer to win (Winds West or Gunnison Country)? This giveaway is open world wide and ends August 1, 2017, midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Review: Understanding the Stars by Xela Culletto

Scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

Narrator: Lori Prince

Publisher: Xela Culletto (2017)

Length: 5 hours 59 minutes

Author’s Page

This X-files-like tale is set in Colorado. Alex Blackwood is just about to graduate high school when her life takes an unexpected turn. Ronan drops a stunning revelation on her involving three alien races, the CIA, and some secret surveillance. In the midst of all this, Alex’s dad is suffering from cancer and she has her pizza delivery job as well.

Ronan was the most interesting character for me. He’s a human descended from a group of humans that left Earth ages ago to co-habitate with an alien race (Salurians? My spelling is probably off since this was the audiobook version). I would have liked to get to know him more in this book and what his life in space is like. Now the Salurians are back and have been watching Earthers for a few decades, simply learning about current cultures and such.

Now the creepy part is that Ronan was assigned to watch Alex since she was 14 (she’s 18 at this point in the story) and this involves an implant in her. Yep. He knows every time she went to the bathroom, had the stomach flu, or suffered growing pains. On his part, I can see the insta-love that we stumble into later. I didn’t really care for the insta-love stuff, but Alex seemed pretty happy with it. Setting aside the beginning of the romance, it later grows into something meaningful as these two develop a friendship.

The Salurians need to leave ahead of schedule because the aggressive Kema’dor are on their way. Initially, they are portrayed as these violent tech thieves. Later on, Alex meets some of them and has to form her own opinion. Much later in the story, a third alien race (the Meddas – again, spelling?) come into play. I really liked that not all aliens are created the same and each race has their own ethics and goals.

I did feel that Alex was a little too easy going about these bigger revelations but freaked out a bit over small things (like the first image she saw of a Kema’dor). This didn’t work for me in terms of character development but it did move the plot along swiftly. I did like that not everything turns out OK for everyone. Alex has to deal with some sadness and loss. This added some seriousness to the story and gave Alex a little depth.

I received a free copy of this book via The Audiobook Worm.

The Narration: Lori Prince was a really great Alex. She sounded young but right there on the cusp of adulthood. She gets an A for effort when it comes to the alien voices and accents. I realize this is a difficult thing to pull off but I have heard better. That said, I did like her voice for the alien Malsoar. She did great with Alex’s feelings.

What I Liked: Multiple alien civilizations; Ronan’s personal history; not everyone gets out unscathed; the CIA mixed in there.

What I Disliked: The insta-love; could have used more about Ronan; why wasn’t Alex more stunned about these big things?

Check out more reviews on the blog tour.

About Author Xela Culletto:

Xela is a working mother of three, living in the Utah. She teaches secondary English and after talking to students for years about following their dreams and doing whatever it takes to achieve them, she decided to take her own advice and complete her lifelong goal of writing a novel. The idea of life on other planets has always fascinated her, and she wondered what they would think of humanity, which is what spawned the idea for the plot of “Understanding the Stars”. When she’s not playing with her kids, or sorting through the endless laundry, you’ll find her watching The Walking Dead, horseback riding, or working on her next book.

Amazon ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Understanding the Stars:

Alexandra Blackwood is minding her own troubled life when she unknowingly gets caught up in an extraterrestrial conflict. Ronan, a human with his own alien-entangled past, has been keeping an eye on her and sets out to help her escape looming abduction, and maybe win her heart.

Audible ~ Amazon

About Narrator Lori Prince:

Lori Prince is a classically trained actor with a BFA from Syracuse University.  She has performed Off-Broadway as well as at top regional theaters including; The Denver Center, Alliance Theater Company and PlayMakers Repertory Company among others.  She has also appeared on Television in Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU and Are We There Yet?. Her voice work includes various characters in the feature film Epic, as well as additional dialogue recorded for over 50 feature films and TV shows.

Website

GIVEAWAY!!!

Win an Audible.com audiobook of your choice! Ends June 11th.

Understanding the Stars Giveaway

Nothing Short of Dying by Erik Storey

StoreyNothingShortOfDyingNarrator: Jeremy Bobb

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (2016)

Length: 7 hours 53 minutes

Series: Book 1 A Clyde Barr Novel

Author’s Page

Clyde Barr wants a break from civilization and he finds it deep in the Yukon. Then one night he receives a desperate call from his sister Jen. She begs him to come rescue her. After a pause, he promises he will. Once back home in Colorado, Clyde starts digging up old contacts that can give him a lead on his sister. A variety of obstacles get in his way including drug dealers, gangs, the FBI, and a questionable comrade from his time in a Mexican prison.

This was an excellent action thriller. Clyde Barr is a many-layered man. He’s spent 16 years away from the States, hunting, killing, and sometimes protecting in South America and Africa. Now he just wants to be away from it all, but that can’t be until he upholds his promise to Jen, a promise he wouldn’t have given lightly. As the story unfolds, we learn more about this fascinating character. He and Jen, the youngest of 4 children, share experiences and a secret from their teen years. Jen knows that if he gives his word then nothing short of dying will keep him from fulfilling it.

Being of the Southwest myself, I really liked that the setting was Colorado. The author did a great job in capturing the empty expanse of some areas of the state, the spread-out cities, and the Hispanic influence in culture, food, and language. Clyde has been away from modern tech for some time and his remarks on changes, such as the legal pot stores, added touchstones for those familiar with the  state.

The ladies make up a good chunk of the side characters and they are written like real people. They don’t fall into the typical action flick stereotypes of love interest and/or damsel in distress. Yes, sometimes someone needs a hand up and Jen especially needs someone to rescue her, yet even Jen is doing what she can from her position to aid herself. Allie Martin, bar tender and drifter, has a solid back story and I like that she has skills that Clyde doesn’t, like she’s familiar with modern mechanics.

Jen has gotten caught up in Lance Alvis’s business, which is currently heroin production and distribution. There’s big money in the business and Alvis isn’t a reckless idiot. He has layers of people between him and the street distribution. This makes it tough for Clyde to track him down. Also, it provides plenty of opportunity for brawling. Clyde has some fighting skills and most of his bouts are swiftly put to an end, leaving the drug pushers on the floor.

Now I don’t want to make Clyde sound like a macho man. He’s capable, even deadly when he has to be, and masculine – no doubt about those three points. Yet he doesn’t toot his own horn or show off  for the ladies. There are even a few times where he slips or makes a mistake and he’s the first to chuckle at himself or castigate himself, depending on the situation.

Zeke was probably the most interesting minor character. He spent some time with Clyde in a tough situation and they were comrades of sort. However, Zeke lacks morals and Clyde sees him as dangerous because of this. Yet Zeke is good with horses. Another interesting character was Chapo, who is muscle for a local gang. He joins forces with Clyde briefly as they hunt down a lead on Alvis. Chapo has his own code and Clyde focuses on that instead of the right or wrong of the gang life.

All around, it’s a very interesting action tale with plenty of layers to peel back as the story moves forward. I was never bored with it or rolling my eyes. I also appreciated the accuracy in description and use when it came to firearms. I very much look forward to what else Storey comes up with in his writing career.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

The Narration: Jeremy Bobb did a very good job with Clyde Barr’s voice. It was practical and a little rough, just like the man himself. His female voices were  believable. He also did a Hispanic accent here and there.  

What I Liked: The setting; Clyde’s many layers; practical Allie; how many people Clyde has to go through to get to Lance Alvis; Zeke and his horses; the ending.

What I Disliked: Nothing –  a very exciting story!

What Others Think:

Dead End Follies

The REAL Book Spy

BookPage

Crime Fiction Lover

Planet Books

Emma Lee’s Blog

Rocky Mountain Wildflowers Field Guide by Linda S. Nagy

NagyRockyMountainWildflowersFieldGuideLuxorWafflesWhere I Got It: Review copy

Photography: Bernie Nagy

Publisher: High Country Artworks LLC (2016)

Length: 272 pages

Author’s Page

This is a sweet little field guide for flowers of the Rocky Mountain area. Here in northern New Mexico, I am just at the southern edge of that. Right off the bat, I recognized several flowers in this book. I love that the book itself fits easily in my small hands and this makes it perfect for packing on a hike or carrying around on slow stroll.

The book is cleverly organized by flower color. In fact the edges of the pages are colored so you can look at the closed book side on and see right away where to turn to for a flower identification. The book opens with some useful info that is succinctly given – no rambling, which is great. Clear illustrations provide info on the different parts of a flower, what different kinds of flower clusters are called, and various leaf shapes. I have a biology degree and these few pages taught me a few things about plants.

The description for each flower contains the Latin name, the genetic family, and the common names. The habitats, flowering season(s), and altitude zone is also given for each flower. sizes of both the flower and the plant are also given. I especially liked that several descriptions have a line or two about where the flower’s common name came from. It’s a cool piece of trivia for dinner parties and hiking buddies alike.

The photography is clear and sharp. The images often have insets so that you can see what the plant looks like from a few feet away and then what the flowers look like up close. The lighting in the images is pretty consistent throughout too which I think is an accomplishment. Obviously, not all 270+ flowers could have been photoed in the same day.

I am most pleased with this field guide and I think many folks and flower enthusiasts would find it useful. I appreciate the compact nature of this book all around – the concise descriptions and the physical size of the book. Definitely pick up your copy in time for wild flower season!

 

I received a copy at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

What I Liked: Succinct info; great photos; info on plant parts and flower clusters; the various names a flower goes by; habitat info; the small size of the book; color coding by flower color.

What I Disliked: Nothing –  I really enjoy this book!