Category Archives: Non-fiction

Audiobook Blog Tour & Giveaway: Creatrix Rising: Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women by Stephanie Raffelock

CREATRIX RISING
AUDIOBOOK
Written
& Narrated by
STEPHANIE RAFFELOCK
Nonfiction / Self Help Memoir / Aging & Longevity
Publisher: Narrating Sound
Length: 4 hours, 43 minutes
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
SCROLL DOWN FOR GIVEAWAY!
Ever since Eve was banned from the garden, women have endured the oftentimes painful and inaccurate definitions foisted upon them by the patriarchy. Maiden, mother, and crone, representing the three stages assigned to a woman’s life cycle, have been the limiting categories of both ancient and modern (neo-pagan) mythology. And one label in particular rankles: crone. The word conjures a wizened hag—useless for the most part, marginalized by appearance and ability.
None of us has ever truly fit the old-crone image, and for today’s midlife women, a new archetype is being birthed: the Creatrix.
In Creatrix Rising, Raffelock lays out—through personal stories and essays—the highlights of the past fifty years, in which women have gone from a quiet strength to a resounding voice. She invites us along on her own transformational journey by providing probing questions for reflection so that we can flesh out and bring to life this new archetype within ourselves. If what the Dalai Lama has predicted—that women will save the world—proves true, then the Creatrix will for certain be out front, leading the pack.
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review-2

5 Stars!

Part memoir, part self-help, completely inspiring!

In Creatrix Rising, author Stephanie Raffelock introduces and discusses society’s, including women’s, beliefs about a woman’s place in the world once reaching menopause. Early women’s studies have classified a woman’s life into three ordered stages or archetypes: maiden, mother, and crone. It seems that we as a society have an ingrained sense that a woman’s entire worth culminates during the mother phase, on one’s ability to produce children. Once that is no longer an option, a woman moves into the crone phase, one of less or no value.

As I’ve aged, and as my friends and family have also done so, I have heard that wistfulness in the tone of voice when we talked about entering menopause. It is a change to one’s identity, much like when one retires. (But as I liked to think when I retired, I’m just retiring from HERE (that job), I’m not retiring from life. Frankly, I’ve got stuff to do, places to go, and people to see.) But even before retiring from a job, menopause happens, and the insidious labeling of irrelevance can start to invade. Raffelock proposes we jettison the image of the crone as no longer relevant and replace it with the more accurate archetype of Creatrix: a woman who is comfortable and free to be true to herself and embrace the creativity she has within. The book fleshes out the nature of the Creatrix and how it manifests under current circumstances much better than I can.

The author narrates the audiobook edition of the book herself, and she is captivating. I can absolutely understand why she would be in demand as a speaker (which makes one of her life vignettes regarding her speaking to groups particularly poignant.) Raffelock puts her life on view for the reader, warts and all, describing her personal experiences and revelations on her way to where she is today. Like everyone, she made some mistakes in her life, and she is very candid about hers. This book is inspirational and illustrative rather than simply biographical, but I imagine her complete life story would make for fascinating reading. This book was absorbing and found it difficult to pause my listening to the audiobook.

Each chapter concludes with a set of outstanding questions for personal reflection and journaling to assist the reader in recognizing the Creatrix in themselves and promote thoughtful consideration. Sometimes the questions were difficult for me to find a starting point to form a response to; others served as an open door. Many made me wish I was listening to the audiobook with friends and family because I wanted the discussion that was sure to follow after.

I will recommend CREATRIX RISING to those friends and family and women approaching this pivotal point in their physical life and psyche.

Stephanie Raffelock is an author, speaker, and voiceover artist. She is the editor of the anthology, Art in the Time of Unbearable Crisis (2022). Stephanie is the author of Creatrix Rising, Unlocking the Power of Midlife Women (2021) and she penned the award-winning book, A Delightful Little Book on Aging (2020). She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and a goofy Labrador Retriever named Mickey.
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FOUR WINNERS
Each receives an audiobook + a print copy of
CREATRIX RISING
(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 9/16/22.)

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Filed under Book Reviews, Memoir, Non-fiction, Self-Help

Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol by Ben H. English

BLACK AND WHITE
Tales of the Texas Highway
Patrol
by
BEN H. ENGLISH
Law Enforcement Biography / Memoir / Ethics & Morals
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Pages: 250 pages
Publication Date: June 7, 2022
 
You know, I never saw an officer, an EMT, a fireman, or an ER crew ask anyone what their politics were and then refuse to care for them because of their answer. The color of skin pigment, the last name, the amount of money in a bank account, none of that mattered.
All that mattered was someone needed help, and they had the skills as well as the burning desire to do so.
Yes, they are only human and internally flawed and prejudiced as any other. But their true nature, their crowning glory in mortal life, is their ability to rise above those flaws and prejudices when called upon.

In a world of hungry, destructive wolves, they stand as the sheepdog who serves and protects the flock.
For
autographed or personally inscribed copies, contact:
review-2-1

A memoir well told!

You run into very few outstanding storytellers over a lifetime, and Ben H. English, the author of Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol, is undoubtedly among the best. The words flow, and the stories unfold, and with them comes truth and emotion.

Mr. English is upfront that Black and White was a book he never wanted to write. The subject matter is achingly personal, and the people involved are important not only to him but to many others (perhaps the entire state of Texas in some cases.) But he felt the stories needed telling; the subjects deserved to be known, appreciated, and honored. And so, we have them. And they are well worth the time you’ll spend sitting, reading, and absorbing.

Black and White is a collection of stories linked together by being incidents occurring during Mr. English’s career with the Texas Highway Patrol. Some of the same individuals are involved in more than one, his coworkers or family members, and you get to know them. Some tell of tragic events, while a few are more light-hearted or end in a good place. Photographs of many individuals who are the subject of these memories are included, making those people much more real.

I appreciated the author sharing these vignettes from his past; you see these men and women usually only on the interstate checking speed or writing citations, but these stories prove there’s so much more to what they handle. I particularly enjoyed the humorous recounting of the recalcitrant Christine, but I was deeply affected by others. (I had to pause and regroup after reading The Memory Thief.) And, too, there is just something about this area of the state where these incidents took place. The author had me feeling the open emptiness and almost tasting the dust. I have driven these counties (always going elsewhere), and now after reading these stories, I want to go back and see the area again with them fresh in my mind.

With its evocative storytelling and exciting action of deeply personal and actual events, I recommend BLACK AND WHITE to readers who enjoy memoirs, good law enforcement narratives, and true stories set in rural Texas.

Ben H. English is an eighth-generation Texan who grew up in the Big Bend. At seventeen, he joined the Marines, ultimately becoming a chief scout-sniper as well as an infantry platoon sergeant. Later he worked in counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries on four continents.
At Angelo State University, he graduated Magna Cum Laude along with other honors. Afterwards, Ben had a career in the Texas Highway Patrol, holding several instructor billets involving firearms, driving, patrol procedures, and defensive tactics.
After retirement, he decided to try his hand at writing. His first effort, Yonderings, was accepted by a university press and garnered some awards. His second, Destiny’s Way, led to a long-term multi-book contract. This was followed by Out There: Essays on the Lower Big Bend, The Uvalde Raider, and now Black and White: Tales of the Texas Highway Patrol.
His intimate knowledge of what he writes about lends credence and authenticity to his work. Ben knows how it feels to get hit and hit back, or being thirsty, cold, wet, hungry, alone, or exhausted beyond imagination. Finally, he knows of not only being the hunter but also the hunted.
Ben and his wife have two sons who both graduated from Annapolis. He still likes nothing better than grabbing a pack and some canteens and heading out to where few others venture.
Just as he has done throughout most of his life…


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8/29/22

Notable Quotables

Chapter
Break Book Blog

8/29/22

Review

That’s What She’s Reading

8/29/22

BONUS Promo

Hall Ways Blog

8/30/22

Excerpt

Shelf Life Blog

8/30/22

Review

The Clueless Gent

8/30/22

BONUS Promo

LSBBT Blog

8/31/22

Guest Post

It’s Not All Gravy

8/31/22

Review

Forgotten Winds

9/1/22

Scrapbook Page

Book Fidelity

9/1/22

Review

Rox Burkey Blog

9/2/22

Audio Interview

StoreyBook Reviews

9/2/22

Review

Boys’ Mom Reads!

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Code of Silence by Lise Olsen

Code of Silence:

Sexual Misconduct by Federal Judges,

the Secret System that Protects Them,

 and the Women Who Blew the Whistle

by 

Lise Olsen

 

Nonfiction / True Crime / Metoo / The Courts

Publisher: Beacon Press

Pages: 288 pages

Publication Date: August 9, 2022 (paperback)

 

 

 

Code of Silence tells the story of federal court employee Cathy McBroom, who had to flee her job as a case manager in Galveston, Texas, after enduring years of sexual harassment and assault by her boss-US District Judge Samuel Kent. Following a decade of firsthand reporting at the Houston Chronicle, investigative reporter Lise Olsen charts McBroom’s assault and the aftermath, when McBroom was thrust into the role of whistle-blower to denounce a federal judge.

What Olsen discovered by investigating McBroom’s story and other federal judicial misconduct matters nationwide was shocking. With the help of other federal judges, Kent was being protected by a secretive court system that has long tolerated or ignored complaints about corruption, sexism, and sexual misconduct-enabling him to remain in office for years. Other powerful judges accused of judicial misconduct were never investigated and remain in power or retired with full pay, such as US Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski and Kozinski’s mentee, Brett Kavanaugh

PRAISE FOR CODE OF SILENCE

Winner of the 2022 Investigative Reporters and Editors’ Book Award.

Winner of the 2022 Texas Institute of Letters’ Carr P. Collins Award for Best Book of Nonfiction.

“Another ‘true crime’ book is being published later this month. But Code of Silence by Lise Olsen is not like most books – or podcasts -of that popular genre. For starters, there is no murder. We know who dunnit from the beginning. And it is anything but insensitive toward the victims and their families, a common criticism of many true crime stories. The culprit this time wasn’t a marginal member of society. U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent was a federal judge, known for both his brilliance and his bullying.” —Rick CaseySan Antonio Report

“A gutting new #metoo book,” Rose Cahalan, Texas Monthly

“A long overdue exposé on how the judicial system suppresses claims of sexual harassment against judges. In this new era of reckoning with sexual assault and harassment, Code of Silence is essential reading.”Anita Hill

“Code of Silence is a beautifully written, disturbing as hell example of how the American experiment fails when it lets men set themselves up as kings.” –Houston Chronicle.

“Flight: Houston and Galveston, Texas, March 2007”

EXCERPT, PART TWO FROM

CODE OF SILENCE BY LISE OLSEN

CLICK TO READ PART ONE OF THIS EXCERPT ON LONE STAR BOOK BLOG TOURS

For nearly five years, McBroom had served US District Judge Samuel Bristow Kent. Kent was part of the powerful network of federal jurists whose lifetime appointments were guaranteed by the Constitution. Cathy McBroom was part of a vast national court bureaucracy of people who served at the pleasure of such judges. Initially, McBroom had raved about her “dream job,” which provided the financial stability she’d craved and a federal salary of more than $70,000 plus benefits. Later there had been trouble with the judge, though McBroom had explained to her mother that she, like all federal court employees, was bound by an oath to respect court confidentiality. She and other employees were subject to a strict code of conduct and generally never discussed the inner workings of the court or any judge’s behind-the-scenes behavior.

Whatever Kent had done, it had been bad, Schopp knew. Her eldest child had always been a steady, strong woman on whom Schopp herself had leaned when her first marriage fell apart and she’d divorced McBroom’s father. But this morning all of her daughter’s self-confidence and control appeared cracked, if not shattered.

McBroom kept repeating in a monotone that she couldn’t discuss anything.

“If you can’t talk about it, you’ve got to get it out,” Schopp insisted. “Go use the computer in my studio. Type down every little incident you can remember.”

Schopp wasn’t sure she should leave her anguished daughter behind, but birthday duty called. She drove off to fetch her grandson and ferried a carload of gangly adolescents with floppy hair and feet too big for the rest of their growing bodies to Clear Lake’s AMF Alpha Lanes, the bowling alley where the usual cake, Cokes, and souvenir ten-pin awaited. She invented excuses when her grandson asked about his missing mom.

Alone in the snug yellow-brick house, McBroom felt marginally safer surrounded by the comfortable clutter of her mother and stepfather’s blended lives, their cobbled-together furniture, aging housecats, and many memories of family gatherings and home-cooked meals. This was not McBroom’s childhood home, but it was a familiar place—her mother had purchased it more than twenty years before with Don, her mother’s second husband. McBroom had grown up in the industrialized Houston suburb of Channelview, where she had learned from her own dad, a tough chemical plant worker, to fight for herself as a girl, even when that meant using her fists to quiet a bully or walking away from the boyfriend who punched a hole in her parents’ garage wall. Today, though, she felt none of that strength.

McBroom shut herself up in the front bedroom that served as a combination office and a studio for her mother’s oil painting. Colorful canvases filled with hand-painted roses and chrysanthemums surrounded McBroom as she stared into the void of the computer screen, digging deep inside to find words. Beside her in frames and on the wall of the hallway just outside the small room were images from other stages of her life. McBroom as a chubby toddler with her hair pulled back in a ponytail; McBroom smiling in a crowded gathering at her grandmother’s ninetieth birthday; formal portraits of the two children, Evelyn, and Casey, whom she’d had after marrying her childhood sweetheart; and a party picture of McBroom in a glittery black dress and holding hands with her second husband, Rex, the father of her son Caleb, whose birthday party she was missing.

Mostly she’d been a good mother. Her children knew she had their backs. And she’d often acted as the fixer for her parents and her younger brother, too, providing the glue that held the family together or, when that proved impossible, providing comfort when things fell apart. Along the way, she’d built a solid career as an experienced assistant in the cutthroat legal profession in lawyers’ offices and later attained an important post in the federal district court clerk’s office, workplaces that in the 1990s and 2000s remained largely male-dominated worlds tinged with sexism. In her forties, she’d begun to run marathons and completed five races in one memorable year. She normally buzzed with energy. But she’d never faced anything as difficult as this self-appointed task.

McBroom had decided to denounce a powerful federal judge. And she would do this alone. She knew her written words, once shared, would make an enemy of a jurist who’d earned a national reputation among law professors as a bully, and who had repeatedly proved himself capable of humiliating, harassing, and harming the careers of anyone who crossed him. This man had both an extraordinarily domineering personality and the formidable power of the robe he wore.

McBroom had never known any woman personally who had taken on a federal jurist for sexual misconduct except what she’d read and seen about Anita Hill. Back in 1991, McBroom and many other American women had been outraged and inspired as they watched the University of Oklahoma law professor testify before an all-male US Senate Judicial Committee about how Clarence Thomas, then a federal judge and US Supreme Court nominee, had sexually harassed her in his years as her boss in two different federal government jobs. Hill had worked for Thomas both in the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education and again when he became chair of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal agency that supposedly specializes in helping people who struggle with on-the-job harassment and discrimination. The experience hadn’t turned out so well for Hill, McBroom knew. Thomas had won a seat on the Supreme Court anyway. Hill had been branded as a liar by conservative commentators and ridiculed for testifying about how Thomas asked her about pubic hair on a Coke can and described scenes in porn films featuring large-breasted women having sex with men and animals.

McBroom still felt physically sick when she recalled what had happened to her that Friday inside Kent’s wood-paneled chambers—a formal yet intimate space that smelled of the judge’s illicit cigar breaks, his collection of law books, and his bulldogs. She feared that her decision to flee meant that he would seek revenge and ruin her career.

 CLICK TO PURCHASE!

(Paperback edition available on 8/9)

 | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Beacon Press |

  **autographed copies available through the following Texas Indie booksellers**

 | Bookwoman (Austin) | Brazos Books (Houston) |

| Deep Vellum (Dallas) | Galveston Bookshop |

Interabang Books (Dallas) | Literarity (El Paso) |

 

Lise Olsen is a Texas-based investigative reporter and author who has uncovered many twisted tales, including crooked judges, an unjust execution, massive environmental disasters, myriad cases of corruption, and unsolved serial killings. Her reporting has contributed to the prosecutions of a former congressman and a federal judge, inspired laws and reforms, helped solve cold cases, restored names to unidentified murder victims, and freed dozens of wrongfully-held prisoners. Her work is featured in CNN’s “The Wrong Man” (2015) about the innocence claims of executed offender Ruben Cantu and the six-part A&E series on the victims of a 1970s serial killer, The Eleven, (2017). CODE OF SILENCE is her first book – the paperback from BEACON PRESS is out this month. She is at work on a second book: the SCIENTIST AND THE SERIAL KILLER.

 

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(US only; ends midnight, CDT, 8/13.)

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CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO
EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,

OR VISIT THE PARTICIPATING BLOGS DIRECTLY:

 

8/3/22Guest PostHall Ways Blog
8/4/22ReviewThat’s What She’s Reading
8/4/22BONUS PromoLSBBT Blog
8/5/22Top Ten ListChapter Break Book Blog
8/6/22ReviewBook Fidelity
8/7/22ExcerptAll the Ups and Downs
8/8/22ExcerptBoys’ Mom Reads
8/9/22ReviewIt’s Not All Gravy
8/10/22Author InterviewThe Clueless Gent
8/11/22ReviewThe Plain-Spoken Pen
8/12/22ReviewForgotten Winds

 

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Remember the Alamo Bowl: Bram Kohlhausen and TCU’s Epic Comeback by Jim Reeves


Remember the Alamo Bowl: Bram Kohlhausen's Epic TCU ComebackRemember the Alamo Bowl: Bram Kohlhausen’s Epic TCU Comeback by Jim Reeves
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Straight-forward and wonderfully told, humble with all the warts.

The 2016 Alamo Bowl game between TCU and Oregon was one for the record books, with TCU overcoming one of the largest deficits in bowl game history to attain a victory. With a 31-0 score at halftime, the sportscasters had all but turned out the lights at the Alamodome on TCU’s chances to win that game. But the Horned Frogs team that came back on the field for the second half had decided they weren’t ready to lie down and give up. And leading the way was TCU senior quarterback Bram Kohlhausen. Relieved to find he still had the coaching staff’s confidence, he put the frustrating first half behind him and led the Frogs to an amazing comeback victory in triple overtime. Remember the Alamo Bowl is Bram’s story.

I liked that the author begins Bram’s story as the miserable first half of the game concludes. Bram is disheartened, and the Horned Frogs are devastated by their performance and are returning to the locker room. The author succeeds in placing us right there with the team and coaches. The insights from the players, including Bram, his family, and friends, were honest and heartbreaking, especially with the ever-present shadow of the disgraced Trevone Boykin hovering in the midst. It was easy to feel the excitement of the time, even all these years later, as each one recounted their thoughts and participation. You could still hear the wonder in the comments at what the Horned Frogs accomplished that night.

The story goes back to Bram Kohlhausen’s childhood and early success in high school football, and he is open and forthcoming about how he handled all the attention he received, becoming the big man on campus. I especially enjoyed his brothers’ contributions to the story and could easily relate to his mother. The loss of his father in the months leading up to the bowl game was heart-wrenching. Bram takes ownership of things that didn’t go well in his college football journey, partly due to his own decisions, actions, and choices but not all. Still, there was no finger-pointing.

The events leading up to Bram replacing Boykin in the Alamo Bowl, his first start as a quarterback for TCU, are covered from start to finish. I felt I better understood what went down in San Antonio back then. It was such an avoidable tragedy for his friend and teammate, and I could feel the brotherhood in that Horned Frog team.

I have watched this game a couple of times since the live airing, and the recounting of the plays in the book was still exciting. Reading this, I knew what would happen, and I was still caught up in the same emotions I felt during the actual game.

I highly recommend REMEMBER THE ALAMO BOWL to readers who enjoy sports books, underdog stories, and most of all, TCU fans, especially those who watched or experienced that game.

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from NetGalley.



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A Little Dog’s Adventures in a Big Dog’s World: Following Winnie on the Path of K9 Scent Work and Life by Suzanne Catalano

This love letter from a dog owner to her beloved pets, both past and present, is a wonderful recounting of partnership and healing!

A Little Dog’s Adventures in a Big Dog’s World is author Suzanne Catalano’s personal experience narrative about her introduction and participation, with her dog Winnie, in the canine sport of scent work. Not a how-to manual, but more a loving tribute to an activity in which she and her puggle (Beagle-Pug mix) have had a successful and satisfying partnership. I was not familiar with this sport, but I have dogs, and I found Catalano’s stories warm, engaging, exciting at times, and always inspirational. Many of her thoughts mirrored precisely how I felt about my relationships with my dogs. Often, I felt like she was reading my mind!

The stories she shared about the actual nose work training and trials were as engaging as they were fascinating. The descriptions of how odor works and travels were new to me and eye-opening. Who knew?!

I liked reading about the AKC events, which I’ve seen promoted in their newsletters but didn’t know what they were. But I was even more surprised to learn about how the sport originated with the National Association of Canine Scent Work.

I recommend A Little Dog’s Adventures in a Big Dog’s World to readers who love dogs, have dogs, or just like dogs. Anyone that has dogs will recognize many of the dog behaviors Catalano talks of as those of their own pups, and smile. But the pure joy of the author’s relationship with her dog, Winnie, clearly comes through in every aspect of this book and is, perhaps, the best part of the reading. Winnie and Suzanne are a delightful pair.

By the way, Peaches and Stoli, the resident basset hounds and security team here in Texas, say “Tell your dog ‘Hi!’”

I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from Reedsy Discovery.

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