Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: Shakespeare Burning by Charisse Moritz

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for Shakespeare Burning by Charisse Moritz. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt for you as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card! Check out the rest of the stops on the excerpt tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Shakespeare Burning
Author: Charisse Moritz
Publication Date: July 29th 2019
Print Length: 325 pages
Genre: Young Adult Mature Romance
He’s the boy who wants to disappear.

One mistake and seventeen-year-old Shake LeCasse lost everything. Now there’s no going back and no way to move forward. The once-popular Varsity hockey captain is living in the basement of a grandmother he barely knows, ditching school, avoiding friends and working hard on self-destruction.

She’s the girl nobody sees.

Cleo Lee survives however she can. Lie, cheat, steal, whatever it takes, and saving Mr. Popular isn’t part of the plan. Telling him the truth about the night that destroyed his life is downright dangerous. She needs to keep quiet, be smart and let the guy she’s been half in love with since middle school throw away a future she’d do anything to have. Too bad she sucks at playing it safe.

I begin with the end:

Too soon, the front door slams and it’s just me and Shake.

Just us. Is there an us? I want to grab Shake, wrap my arms around him, but I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that anymore. Bruce has probably dirtied his view of me. He’s now looking through the grimy windows of the yellow house, seeing a more honest version of me.

Shake stares. I fidget. I wish he’d sit. I get to my feet. He’s uncomfortably tall. Looking up at him hurts both my neck and my heart, so I get busy studying the floor. I shift from foot to foot, tempted to run, but he deserves the chance to send me away. I want to cry, but I don’t deserve the pity my tears might my earn.

His touch catches me by surprise. I flinch, and he hesitates before spreading his fingertips across my cheeks. I drown in the heat of him, sound of his breath, his clean scent. This is how he wears me down. Just by being every wish I’ve ever made.

So I finally look up. Shake is waiting, patient but making a face I recognize. He will get his way. He is a stubborn sasquatch.

“No more secrets,” he says.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper.

“Are you my girl or not Cleo?”

His girl? Wow. That’s just … wow. I can’t even wrap my head around his voice saying those words. I’ve never been given a choice, never been chosen, and this boy is so far beyond me, I’m surprised I can see him without a telescope.

“Are you my girl?” he repeats. “There’s only two answers here. Give me one.”

“Yes,” I say, convincing myself, giving him the answer he wants, but it’s not enough. He needs more. Always more and I’ll never be enough.

“Then tell me. Everything.”

“I don’t want to give you up,” I blurt.

“I’m not walking away.”

“You will.”

“You know me better.”

Do I? Maybe. Yes. I keep expecting him to bail on me, but so far, he just keeps putting up with my shit and waiting for me to prove I’m not worth it.

My shame is pure heat, pumping through my veins, burning my tongue, and my voice is less than smoke. “Bruce told you, right? What a skanky piece of ass I am?”

“Don’t do that. Trust me enough to be honest.”

I start to tremble. It originates in my legs, travels up my spine, and I’m shaking my head no, trying to step back, when his hands tighten and don’t allow it. He quotes Shakespeare.

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

And so I begin with the end.
Emily Award Finalist and Melody Of Love Award Finalist, Charisse M Moritz divides her life between upstate NY and northern Florida. When not barricaded inside her writing cave or enjoying every possible minute with her husband and three kids, you’ll find her listening to 60’s music, singing offkey and looking for new reads.

Charisse Moritz will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the tour each day. Good luck!
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Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Blurb Blitz and Giveaway: Light Shines on Promise Lodge (Promise Lodge #5) by Charlotte Hubbard

Welcome to my stop on the blurb blitz for Light Shines on Promise Lodge by Charlotte Hubbard. This blitz was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt as well as the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to check out the other stops participating in the blitz for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Light Shines on Promise Lodge
Series: Promise Lodge #5
Publisher: Zebra Books
Publication Date: March 31st 2020
Print Length: 320 pages
Genre: Amish Inspirational Romance
For abandoned wife Annabelle Beachey, Promise Lodge is a refuge where she’s gained confidence and self-sufficiency. But she and the others are dismayed when newly arrived Bishop Clayton King claims the community is too progressive and sets out to change its ways. Worse, her husband, Phineas, returns, expecting her to give up her faith as he has. And he won’t leave Promise Lodge without her…

But little by little, Annabelle’s determination and new forthrightness make Phineas realize his mistakes—and truly hear his wife for the first time. Meanwhile, Annabelle finds herself feeling compassion—and even renewed love—for her newly humble, more caring husband. And as Bishop Clayton’s attempt to control Promise Lodge threatens everything its residents have built, Phineas and Annabelle must work together with unshakeable courage to save their new home—and their opportunity for forever happiness.

“You know,” Cyrus remarked to his brother Jonathan, who sat beside him at the table, “I think Gloria might be coming around. Now that she’s our scribe for The Budget, along with managing Rosetta’s rentals, she doesn’t seem like such an airhead anymore.”

Jonathan’s eyebrows rose as he, too, watched Gloria enter the kitchen. “Spoken like a man in love,” he teased. “Since when are you sweet on Miss Lehman?”

“Lay off that talk, man!” Cyrus replied as he playfully punched Jonathan’s arm. “I’m just saying that Gloria’s changed. Remember how she used to follow Allen around like a lovesick puppy, spying on him and baking those brickbat brownies for him?”

“Why would you care, unless you’re interested?” his brother challenged. “Maybe today’s wedding and Allen’s engagement to Phoebe is getting you in the mood, eh?”

Jonathan’s remark caught Cyrus by surprise. The two of them had been working six days a week all spring and summer to help their older cousins, Simon and Sam Helmuth, establish their landscaping nursery, so they hadn’t had a lot of time for dating.

And now that Phoebe’s hitching up with Troyer, only two are left—unless you broaden your horizons and start scouting around Forest Grove . . . or Cloverdale, where Maria is.

“I rest my case. If you have no response, you’re susceptible to wedding fever,” Jonathan remarked lightly.

Cyrus sat up straighter to challenge his brother. “Here you are at twenty-four—much older than I am—and you’ve got no prospects at all. What’s your problem?”

“Puh! I could have women swarming around me like bees if I—”

“So why don’t you?” Cyrus shot back. “You’ve had the same opportunities I’ve had.”

“Are you calling me out? Saying I couldn’t latch onto any girl I wanted?” Jonathan said in a deceptively calm voice.

Something about the tilt of his brother’s eyebrows and the light in his brown eyes sent a surge of adrenalin through Cyrus’s system. Was it the ticking of his biological clock goading him, or was he rising to Jonathan’s challenge?

“So prove it,” Cyrus heard himself say beneath the happy chatter that filled the dining room. “If you’re not engaged by Thanksgiving, you owe me five hundred bucks!”
In 1983, Charlotte Hubbard sold her first story to True Story. She wrote around 70 of those confession stories, and she’s sold more than 50 books to traditional or online publishers. A longtime resident of Missouri, she’s currently writing Amish romances set in imaginary Missouri towns for Kensington. She now lives in St. Paul, MN with her husband of 40+ years and their Border collie, Vera.

Charlotte Hubbard will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter after the tour. To increase your chance of winning, leave a comment at a different stop on the blurb blitz each day. Good luck!
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Pre-Order Preview: Breakfast at the Honey Creek Cafe (A Honey Creek Novel) by Jodi Thomas

A Honey Creek Novel
Jodi Thomas

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Zebra
Publication Date: May 26, 2020
Number of Pages: 336 pages
From Jodi Thomas, New York Times bestselling author of Mornings on Main and Indigo Lake, comes this heartwarming new novel set in Honey Creek, Texas—a small town where family bonds and legends run deep, and friendship and love are always close at hand . . .

Piper Jane Mackenzie, mayor of Honey Creek, won’t let a major scandal rip her quirky hometown apart or jeopardize her dream of one day running for higher office. So she’s willing to welcome undercover detective Colby McBride, hired to help solve the mystery behind her wannabe fiancé’s disappearance. Colby’s cover? That he is an old boyfriend now begging Piper for a second chance—always when there are plenty of townsfolk around to witness his shenanigans.

Piper hardly knows whether to laugh or cry, especially when she finds herself drawn to the handsome rascal. He's not the only newcomer she has to deal with. There’s a new interim preacher in town, Sam Cassidy. Drifting from one assignment to another since his one love died, Sam isn’t sure he’s the right fit for Honey Creek. But as Piper knows, this is a place chock-full of surprises. And if she can keep her town—and her heart—from going completely off the rails, there may be a sweet, unexpected future in store . . .
With millions of books in print, Jodi Thomas is both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over fifty novels and countless short story collections. Her stories travel through the past and present days of Texas and draw readers from around the world.

In July 2006, Jodi was the eleventh writer to be inducted into the Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. With five RITAs to her credit, along with National Readers’ Choice Awards and Booksellers’ Best Awards, Thomas has proven her skill as a master storyteller.

Thomas was honored in 2002 as a Distinguished Alumni by Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas and served sixteen years as the Writer in Residence at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas.

When not working on a novel, or inspiring students to pursue writing careers, Thomas enjoys traveling with her family, renovating an historic home, and “checking up” on two grown sons and four grandchildren.

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Monday, April 6, 2020

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Reverend of Silence by Pamela Sparkman

Title: Reverend of Silence
Author: Pamela Sparkman
Publication Date: January 14th 2020

Print Length: 287 pages
Genres: Coming of Age, Historical, Young Adult

A coming of age story about faith, love, and overcoming society’s prejudices during the American Antebellum period.

In 1810, Lucy Hallison suffered from a severe illness at the age of three, and later recovered, a deaf-mute. Unable to relate to the world in which she lives, she’s often ignored and sometimes treated with cruelty. Until a boy, Samuel Burke, steps into her life at the tender age of seven, coloring her world and showing her what it means to be seen, to not be invisible, to be understood.

The two become inseparable childhood friends, and as they grow and mature, there is the promise and hope of something more that also grows between them. But the hope of something more is put on hold so she can attend The American Asylum at Hartford for the Deaf and Dumb, the first of its kind, requiring her to leave the only home she’s ever known and the only boy she’s ever loved.

But while she is away, tragedy strikes, and Samuel is now the one unable to relate to the world in which he lives, unable to find his own voice, and withdrawing from everyone and everything he’s ever known.

When Lucy returns home from school, she has one goal in mind—to put color back into his world the way he had once put color into hers.

Because Samuel Burke had been her voice when she had needed him most.

Now, she is determined to be his.

Note: Inspired by real people and true historical accounts.

May 27, 1819
Dear Sam,
I received your letter with a glad heart. I have been missing home since my arrival in Hartford. More to the point, missing you. But your letter lifted my spirits. Thank you for reassuring me that you could never forget me. We must never forget each other. I dream of you often, and so, you are always with me. Perhaps, now that I know you dream of dancing, I’ll meet you on the dance floor. I’ll wear the smile you like. You wear the hat, the one from that night. I quite liked it. We’ll meet in our dreams for now, until we can meet again in person. 

I’ll tell you about school now. Mr. Gallaudet is the principal. He has kind eyes and an energetic face. He wears spectacles like your father, and he preaches God’s word to us. We have a chapel here too, where we gather for Mr. Gallaudet’s sermons and for prayer. You would like him very much, I think. The first time I met him, he spoke to me in sign. So many sign words! Most I didn’t know, but I am now learning with much delight. Mr. Clerc is teaching me the manual alphabet by hand. He is deaf, too, and came over from France to teach the Deaf and Dumb at the request of Mr. Gallaudet. Oh, Sam! They are wonderful. 

I finally met Miss Huntley, who aided your mother when she came to Hartford. I admit I got rather emotional upon meeting her. I didn’t expect to be, but her face had been so open. I could read every emotion pressing forward like the title page of a book. I could see the love there and I couldn’t hold back the tears. Next to your mother and mine, she is the kindest, gentlest lady I’ve ever met. 

Coming here has been a blessing to me. I am surrounded by other pupils who love to talk and be happy. I am grateful to your mother for this gift, for if it were not for her and her correspondence with Miss Huntley, I would not be here. So please, do tell my Noah not to worry for me. I am well. My one regret is that I cannot be with you and be here at the same time. 

Until I am home, I’ll meet you at the dance. 
Yours Truly,

“Is that another letter from Lucy?” Mama asked. “Your father came by here looking for you earlier.”

I folded it, then set it on top of the pianoforte with the utmost care. I’d come into the music room to read it. “Yes,” I said, my throat feeling like it was made of splinters.
Mama pushed off the door frame and stepped into the quiet room, the heels of her shoes echoing off the wood floors. Her eyes roamed every nook and cranny, the look of nostalgia playing across her face, memories that weren’t so long ago fresh on her mind as she ran her fingertips over Lucy’s desk.

“Does she say how she’s doing?”

“She mentioned you. She said you gave her a gift. She’s grateful to you.”

She let out a breath. “I’m glad. I was worried that maybe she wouldn’t like it.”

“She’s loving it. And she met Miss Huntley. Lucy cried.” I laughed softly. “You did a good thing, Mama. A very good thing.”

Mama smiled in that special way of hers, but it was lacking the brightness, the softness.

“What’s wrong, Mama? She’s happy there. Why do you still look—”

“Sad?” she finished for me. “Because you do. What’s wrong, Sam? I thought a letter from Lucy would have you smiling ear to ear.”

I got up from my seat at the piano and crossed to the window. A wren was building its nest on one of the tree branches outside. I watched it for a moment while I gathered my thoughts.


“I ache, Mama. Right here.” I rubbed at my chest even though my back was to her. “All the time now. It never goes away.” I kept my eyes trained on the wren because if I looked at my mother, I would break. And I didn’t want to break. I needed to stay whole. For Noah. For Noah’s father. I closed my eyes for a second and swallowed the splinters in my throat. It made my eyes burn.

“Oh, Sam.”

“Don’t,” I said, hearing her stepping toward me and begging her not to. “Please don’t.”

The clacking of her shoes came to a stop and the room was flooded in silence.

“It’ll get easier,” she whispered. “With time.” I nodded and swallowed a few more splinters. “Do you want me to stay with you?”

“No. I’m going to watch this bird build its nest for a while. I’ll be all right. Just—give me some time. That’s the cure, right? Time?”

“Time heals all wounds,” she said. “So they say.”

“Well, I’ll give you a report, let you know if what they say is true.” I glanced over my shoulder and offered her a barely there smile. “Go. I’ve birdwatching to do.”

“I love you, Sam.”

I turned my focus back to the wren. “I love you too, Mama. I love you too.”

Pamela Sparkman grew up in Alabama. She became an avid reader at a young age. The written word has always fascinated her and she wrote her first short story while still in elementary school. Inspiration for her stories always begins with a song. She believes music is the pulse of life and books are the heart of it.

When she isn't writing, however, she's spending time with her family and taking one day at a time.

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Book Blitz and Giveaway: Alien Minds (Dimension Drift #3) by Christina Bauer

Title: Alien Minds
Series: Dimension Drift #3

Author: Christina Bauer
Publisher: Monster House Books
Publication Date: June 5th 2019

Print Length: 334 pages
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

DIVERGENT meets OCEAN’S EIGHT in this urban fantasy heist!

On my seventeenth birthday, I wake up in the hospital to find I just survived a sketchy but terrible accident. My parents stand by my bedside—both are beautiful, wealthy, and super-nice. They tell me that once I leave the hospital, I’ll attend the prestigious ECHO Academy, where I’ll churn out equations for the government along with my mega-smart peers.

So, I’m living the perfect life.

Then why does everything feel all wrong?

My parents, my house and even ECHO Academy…none of it fits. Plus, what’s up with Thorne, my brooding yet yummy classmate who keeps telling me I need to remember my true past, which seems to have included a lot of us kissing? That’s one thing I’d really like to remember, except for the fact that I’m pretty sure Thorne is hiding a ton of nasty secrets of his own, including the fact that he may not be from this world. But considering how my own past seems alien to me, it’s not like I can judge. Plus, Thorne has dimples. That’s a problem.

And worst of all, why does it feel so yucky to work on these calculations for the government? It’s all supposed to be part of ECHO, but my heart tells me that I’m helping something truly terrible come to pass. Thorne seems to think that kissing him again will release my real memories.

Maybe it’s time to pucker up.

“Appealing and engaging. Love the strong female character!” – Arlene’s Book Reviews

This new series is perfect for: fans of urban fantasy, action & adventure, cool science, evil corporations, forbidden romance and hot new classmates who may or may not be aliens.


In this moment, I know four things.

One, I just woke up in a hospital bed.

Two, I don’t remember anything about my life before today. Hello, amnesia!

Three, I want out of here now because …

Four, there’s a creepy couple in my room—Luci and Josiah—who claim they’re my sponsor parents. According to them, I’m a seventeen-year-old science prodigy called Wisteria Roberts.

Huh. That name rings zero bells.

Plus, these two make my skin crawl.

“We sponsor you financially,” explains Josiah. “Then in the fall, we’ll fund your senior year of high school at ECHO Academy.” Josiah’s a lanky guy with slicked-back hair, a frayed suit, and an overly large Adam’s apple.

“Afterward, you’ll pay us back with interest,” adds Luci. “Forty percent. Compounded annually.”

Luci is tall and willowy with white-blonde tresses. By contrast, I’m a curvy girl with brown hair and green eyes. I’m also wrapped up mummy-style with bandages. According to Luci and Josiah, I took a spill on Newbury Street and lost my memory. So sketchy.

Some small voice in my head cries that I should be terrified right now. Instead, I just feel numb. Must be a happy side effect of having no memory. Like an amnesia bonus.
“You’ll love living in our dorm,” says Josiah. “In fact, think of me more as your sponsor friend than your sponsor parent.”

At this point, that small part of me screams how Josiah is a disgusting pig. But more of me is still happily numb, so the warnings go nowhere.

Screech, screech, screech!

A chorus of alarm bells sound. Red lights flash in the outer hallway. An overly calm female voice drones through hidden speakers. “Cleansing search commencing … cleansing search commencing. All hail the Authority … All hail the Authority.”

With that, the inner cogs of my brain connect and whir. Feelings return. My blood chills over with fear. I may not recall my personal history, but I do remember how our evil government—what we call the Authority—conducts cleansing searches. They find the sick or poor, label them as undesirable, and slate them for cleansing. It’s a fancy word for murder.

The alarms wail louder. My heart rate skyrockets. If there’s a cleansing search, I’m a slam dunk to be undesirable. Yipes.

Christina Bauer thinks that fantasy books are like bacon: they just make life better. All of which is why she writes romance novels that feature demons, dragons, wizards, witches, elves, elementals, and a bunch of random stuff that she brainstorms while riding the Boston T. Oh, and she includes lots of humor and kick-ass chicks, too.

Christina graduated from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School with BA’s in English along with Television, Radio, and Film Production. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband, son, and semi-insane golden retriever, Ruby.

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Sunday, April 5, 2020

Book Blog Tour - Destiny's Way: A Novel of the Big Bend by Ben H. English

A Novel of the Big Bend
Ben H. English

Genres: Historical Fiction / Suspense
Publisher: Creative Texts Publishers
Date of Publication: January 18, 2020
Number of Pages: 363
Kate Blanchard woke up one morning in a dream home she could no longer afford, with a young son who needed a man’s influence, and not a friend among those who had claimed to be prior to her husband’s mysterious disappearance.

About all she had left was a ramshackle ranch along Terlingua Creek, sitting forlornly in the desolate reaches of the lower Big Bend. It was the only place left she could go. There she finds a home and a presence of something strange yet comforting that she can’t put her finger on or fully understand.

With that ethereal presence comes Solomon Zacatecas, a loner with his own past and a knowledge of her land near uncanny in nature. He helps her when no one else can and is honest when no one else will be, but she suspicions that he is not always completely so.

Yet her quiet, unassuming neighbor proves to be more than capable in whatever situation arises. That includes when standing alone against those who would take everything else that Kate had, including her life as well as her son’s.
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This is one of those rare books that you simply can't put down. Ben English 's writing style is pure magic. He really brings this historical fiction book to life. Immediately, you are drawn to the main characters Kate and Solomon and feel as though you are right there next to them, experiencing what they are experiencing. Destiny's Way is one that would do well on the Silver Screen.” -- Catherine Eaves, published author

Ben does a superb job with this book! Excellent characters, true-to-life environment that is part and parcel of the story, twists and turns enough to make you wonder what is going on, and a slice of life down in Big Bend that rings true. That area has historically been full of 'characters' throughout its history, and Ben brings those characters into the book, raising the hair on the back of your neck. Highly recommended!” -- J. L. Curtis, author of the Grey Man series

Ben, I love how your words and your memories reach out and connect the past with the present and touch so many people along the way. You are the connector! Bravo Zulu, my friend.” -- Matt Walter, Museum of the Big Bend Curator

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 a platoon sergeant. Later he worked counterintelligence and traveled to over thirty countries. 

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, and defensive tactics.

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.

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(Because there was no way I could keep it at ten…)
by Ben H. English

Motion pictures and television shows of certain genres have given guidance as well as inspiration for my writing, and no more so than the classic Western. Please note the use of the word “classic” as nothing truly noteworthy seems to have come along in some time now. In fact, the creative juices of this industry have gone so stale as to only offer simple rehashes of movies and TV shows from a half century ago, and usually not that well done.

But be that as it may, there are plenty of films from the past to keep those like myself entertained. Below is a list of fifteen, with comments as to why they made the list. I know I looked over at least a hundred more, but I tried to give as wide a scope of stories, actors, and backgrounds as possible. Enjoy.
1. Ride the High Country (1962): Director Sam Peckinpah’s first movie and partially penned by him, and to me his finest. Everyone in this was or ended up being a recognizable Hollywood commodity, and none of them were ever in better form. Headlined by an aging Joel McCrae and Randolph Scott, it is a memorable story of integrity, courage, and friendship. In my opinion, it is an absolute masterpiece.

2. The Good Old Boys (1995): The great Elmer Kelton from Crane, Texas, wrote the novel, and it was screen-adapted by none other than Texas-born Tommy Lee Jones. Filmed mostly in the Big Bend area, it portrays true-to-life characters that only a real West Texan could ever fully understand. A poignant turn-of-the-century tale of changing times and those having to cope with those changes.

3. Lonely Are The Brave (1962): A little known and less appreciated black-and-white film starring Kirk Douglas, this is the only “modern” Western on my list. The theme of the individual from another era trying to fit into modern society has seldom been better done. This is a story for the ages, and perhaps even more timely now than when made nearly sixty years ago.

4. Valdez Is Coming (1971): This is the only “Spaghetti Western” allowed into the group, though in actuality it was filmed in Spain. Headlined by Burt Lancaster, this movie originally opened to mostly critical reviews but has since steadily increased to almost cult-film status. It is also one that has stayed in my mind over that time, and the astute viewer will see certain strands also found in Destiny’s Way.

5. The Professionals (1966): Starring Lee Marvin, Burt Lancaster, Woody Strode, Robert Ryan, Jack Palance, and Ralph Bellamy, this is a wide-open Mexican Revolution-era film that has more than one surprise along the way and a host of one-liners that made movie history. The weapons are authentic, the stunts and special effects first rate, the mountains and desert well selected, and the story is explosively on edge from beginning to end. Two thumbs up!

6. The Unforgiven (1960): Not the overhyped and overrated Eastwood movie of some years ago, but rather a hidden classic detailing love, prejudice, and the clash of warrior-like civilizations. Headlined by such notables as Burt Lancaster, Audie Murphy, John Saxon, and the stunningly beautiful Audrey Hepburn, this was one of the earlier films that strived hard at authenticity in dress, weapons, structures, and the hard, sometimes brutal life found on the Texas frontier of the 1870s.

7. The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976): This was Clint Eastwood’s best offering ever as far as a Western, no matter what he did before or after. Taken from the novel Gone To Texas and set amidst the violence of the Kansas-Missouri guerilla fighting during the War Between The States, it trails from that locale to its final scenes, supposedly placed in the Davis Mountains. A great story, great acting, and a great finale.

8. Monte Walsh (2003): There were two versions of this film made, one in 1970 with Lee Marvin, and later a remake starring Tom Selleck in 2003. This is actually a rare case where I give the nod to the remake. Another story of the rugged individual trying to find his way through a world changing before his very eyes, Monte Walsh is a saga worth the retelling. A final word: if you possibly can watch both versions, the bronc ride in the Lee Marvin film is leather-tough poetry in the saddle.

9. The Shootist (1976): John Wayne in his final role as a dying gunfighter who has lived life the way he saw fit and now plans to meet death in the same manner. With a superbly written story line and an absolutely fantastic cast, this is a memorable Western. I believe that everyone, including the Duke, knew this was his final time around. They took extra care in making it a proper send off.

10. Barbarosa (1982): Though hardly known and heavily panned when released, Willie Nelson turns in his best acting performance ever as a bandit/gunfighter incessantly pursued by a large Mexican family. Almost entirely filmed in the lower Big Bend country, the scenery backdrop is well worth the admission itself. Gary Busey backs up Nelson as a farm boy trying to escape his own past. A rollicking yet poignant story, this is one of the best “sleeper” Westerns around.

11. Rio Conchos (1964): Another overlooked Western that few have heard of these days, it stars Richard Boone, Stuart Whitman, Jim Brown, Tony Franciosa, and Edmond O’Brien in a post-War Between the States drama where ex-Confederates attempt to refight the conflict by arming Apaches. Though not filmed on location, the movie’s title refers to the Rio Conchos that joins with the Rio Grande near Presidio. A special nod goes to Richard Boone, who is at the top of his game following his role as Paladin in the highly successful TV series, Have Gun Will Travel.

12. Conagher (1991): A low-key, made-for-television Western with Sam Elliot in the title role, the screenplay stays very close to the original novel by Louis L’Amour. It is a story with lessons of honesty and honor, “riding for the brand,” and what happens when someone violates that code. This movie was the last performance by the multi-talented Ken Curtis, who did everything from Festus in Gunsmoke to singing in the Tommy Dorsey band after Sinatra struck out on his own. The movie was dedicated to his memory.

13. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962): A John Ford production filmed in black and white, the choice in doing so only adds to the starkness of the story itself. Pairing John Wayne with Jimmy Stewart in lead roles, while Lee Marvin plays Liberty Valance, this was a collaborative effort by everyone involved to produce one of the great morality plays of its time. It also led to a very successful song by Gene Pitney, ultimately reaching the top ten on the charts.

14. How The West Was Won (1962): Proclaimed as one of the greatest movies ever, this film brings such a vast array of talents as to make the mind boggle at the scope. Basically five different stories with four different directors and accompanying stars to carry the plot along, there is no way that any such movie could be made now due to today’s Hollywood culture. It was so good that, in an unusual move, Western author Louis L’Amour wrote a novel adapted from the screenplay. If you decide to watch, do yourself a favor and view the film in its original widescreen format. You will not regret it.

15. The Magnificent Seven (1960): An all-star cast, a rousing action-packed tale of personal as well as professional ethics, and a musical score without peer, this movie was a classic must-see from the day it debuted. In the decades following, The Magnificent Seven spawned numerous sequels, spin-offs, parodies, imitators, and an unfortunate remake best described as an expensive joke. Supposedly based on the Japanese film The Seven Samurai, it goes its own way with a style that will never again be successfully emulated due to names such as Yul Brunner, Steve McQueen, Eli Wallach, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, Robert Vaughn, and others. You will walk away suitably powder burned, satisfied, and wondering why they can’t make ʼem like they used to.
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