Shadows of Pecan Hollow – #DebutNovel @CaroFrostWrites @NetGalley @williammorrowbooks

I received this book complements of NetGalley and the publisher, William Morrow and Custom House.

The blurb for this book drew me in and it was promoted as “Paper Moon meets Badlands.” I have to add my own spin on that. To me, it was more like “Where The Crawdads Sing” meets John Steinbeck.

I’ve read a lot of books this year and this one is landing at the top of my “best books” ever list! I don’t think I’ve met such horribly flawed characters.

A baby girl without a name, unwanted, discarded at birth like a piece of garbage, who never knows acceptance or love through the many foster homes is the main character. “The policeman who had found her as an infant had supposedly named her Katherine, but the only time she heard her name spoken was when a teacher called roll or a social worker handed her off to a new foster family.

At thirteen, she ran. She has one tiny piece of paper that tells her of an aunt who lives in Pecan Hollow and that’s where she blindly heads. Starving, she steals food from a gas station, then attempts to steal a bag of food from a Mustang parked outside when she gets caught. Instead of Manny turning her over to the authorities, he takes her in. She struggles when he asks her name and finally tells him it’s Kit. He feeds her. He grooms her for his wants and needs. Like in Paper Moon, she distracts the victims while Manny steals. She finally knows what it feels like to be loved, wanted, and useful.

But Manny’s petty theft escapades soon escalate to more and they became known as the Texaco Twosome for the string of armed robberies across the state. As Kit grows and develops into a teenager, her infatuation for Manny grows. He has not made any sexual advances toward her, and that is his one redeeming quality.

That eventually changes and Kit gets pregnant. Manny insists on an abortion. I don’t want to reveal too much about this story, but Manny gets caught in an armed robbery while Kit escapes. She arrives in Pecan Hollow at her aunt’s house with nothing but a baby inside her. It’s here she puts down roots.

Kit is tough. And her daughter, Charlie, refers to her mom as “bat-shit crazy.” Kit cannot feel pain. She only knows she is wounded when blood flows. But the pain that rests in her heart makes up for the lack of physical pain.

This story is well-written, gripping and I absolutely devoured it. The plot twists and thriller ending left me reeling. Kudos to this author for such a tremendous debut novel. While Caroline Frost is a new author to me, I can promise I will be reading everything she writes! She’s that good!

The book is set for release in February, 2022 but is available now for pre-order.

I might add that this author doesn’t have a lot of followers on Twitter, but seems to really appreciate each one, so you might consider following her.

Caroline Frost on Twitter

#NewRelease – Down Range @97_TaylorMoore #Thriller #Suspense #DebutNovel @WilliamMorrowPB

I was so excited to get my hands on this book for many reasons, but one of them being that Taylor Moore was a part of my sister’s writing critique group in Amarillo, Texas. This is his debut novel.

Down Range Available August 3rd

Garrett Kohl is as rough and rugged as the land he grew up on in the Texas Panhandle. He’s as comfortable on the back of a horse as he is behind the wheel of a vehicle. He served in the military special forces and now works closely with the CIA as a DEA undercover agent. The story begins with immediate action and tension as Garrett is on a surveillance mission in Afghanistan. He knows he’s past the allowed U.S. perimeter but when he witnesses marauders massacre an entire village, except for one small boy, he cannot idly sit by. He doesn’t stop until they all pay for murdering the innocent people. With the boy in tow, he returns to headquarters to take his punishment for interfering.

Only the punishment he receives is nothing like what he imagined. He is ordered to take the boy with him and return to Texas, to keep him safe for future testimony against the terrorists.

Here’s where the story shifts and Garrett’s family dynamics come into play. His mother is deceased. His father is a grizzled old rancher with more grit than John Wayne. He has one brother, Bridger, a prominent attorney in the small town of Canadian. Bridger is married and has two twin daughters. I was prepared to dislike Garrett’s father for his rough ways and spiteful comments, but this author made me love him. The old man takes the young Afghan boy under his wing and teaches him the ways of the ranch. The story’s pace cools down to a slow burn while building toward the climax.

While Garrett thinks he’s escaped the tense and deadly world of high-stakes drug dealing, instead he’s walked right into the most deadly fight of all and it involves his entire family. The Garza drug cartel is deeply embedded in the panhandle working through a local oil company to move the products.

When Garrett’s brother, Bridger is forced to represent Mescalero Oil, drawing up bogus contracts and representing two of the oil company’s goons who get caught with drugs, he plays a game of Russian roulette with his family as the bargaining chips. The brothers join forces, letting their bygone differences be bygones. They won’t rest until the family is safe again as well as the Afghan boy, Asadi.

The non-stop action, the authenticity of the setting, the weapons, the military tactics, and the characters are compelling and unforgettable. This author managed to combine high-tension thriller drama with family dynamics in such a way that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. All of the tertiary characters are multi-dimensional and each with their own story. If I had to offer any critique of the story, it would be that Garrett thought about and talked about how much he loved and missed his nieces and sister-in-law, and yet he never made an effort to go see them until they were under the cartel’s thumb, so I think a thread got dropped.

This is a story we will be seeing on the big screen. It’s that good! I highly recommend it.

I received this book via NetGalley and the publisher, William Morrow, in exchange for a fair and honest review.

About the Author

I’m often asked how I ended up at the CIA, a question to which there are more than a few answers. But what I think people really want to know is what edged a regular guy like me out of the light and into the shadows of the intelligence world: a what makes you tick kind of thing.

It’s a question I can answer in one single phrase—passion for adventure.

This is the same passion that drew me to childhood heroes like Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Jack Ryan. This quest for adventure propelled me on a solo journey at the age of twenty-four through the jungles of Bolivia, over the Andes, and across the raging Drake Passage on a Russian icebreaker to Antarctica.

And it’s the same passion I have now that spurs me to write thriller novels and action-adventure stories.

We may grow up, but we don’t have to give in. No matter our age or what we do, a good passion for adventure never dies. And if you’re like me and you’re searching for the next one, then look no further. You’ve arrived.

– Taylor Moore