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New York Times Bestseller: The “gripping” true story of a beautiful Texas socialite, her ambitious husband, and a string of mysterious deaths (Los Angeles Times).

Joan Robinson Hill was a world-class equestrian, a glamorous member of Houston high society, and the wife of Dr. John Hill, a handsome and successful plastic surgeon. Her father, Ash Robinson, was a charismatic oil tycoon obsessed with making his daughter’s every dream come true.

Rich, attractive, and reckless, Joan was one of the most celebrated women in a town infatuated with money, power, and fame. Then one morning in 1969, she fell mysteriously ill. The sordid events that followed comprise “what may be the most compelling and complex case in crime annals” (Ann Rule, bestselling author of The Stranger Beside Me).

From the elegant mansions of River Oaks, one of America’s most exclusive neighborhoods, to a seedy underworld of prostitution and murder-for-hire, New York Times–bestselling author Thomas Thompson tracks down every bizarre motive and enigmatic clue to weave a fascinating tale of lust and vengeance. Full of colorful characters, shocking twists, and deadly secrets, Blood and Money is “an absolute spellbinder” and true crime masterpiece (Newsweek).

Author: Thomas Thompson

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Thomas Thompson (October 3, 1933 – October 29, 1982) was a journalist and author.

He was born in Texas and graduated from the University of Texas in 1955. He then worked as a reporter and editor at the Houston Press.

Thompson joined Life Magazine in 1961 and became an editor and staff writer. While at Life he covered the JFK assassination and was the first writer to locate Lee Harvey Oswald’s home and wife. Among his stories were coverage of the making of Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by the Beatles, in which he revealed the group’s extensive drug use; an in-depth look at Frank Sinatra and his alleged Mafia ties; and the 40th and 50th birthdays of Elizabeth Taylor.

His book Hearts (1971) concerned the rivalry between Houston surgeons Michael DeBakey and Denton Cooley at the dawn of the heart transplant era. Richie: The Ultimate Tragedy Between One Decent Man and the Son He Loved (1973) was the story of a Long Island man who killed his drug-addicted son. This was made into a TV-movie called The Death of Richie.

Thompson’s most successful book, “LOST” (1975), was his unapologetic telling of the true story of two men who were lost at sea after a tragic boating accident. Their brutal ‘against all odds’ struggle to survive was brilliantly captured in this riveting expose of human torture so unimaginable as to shock and disturb readers to their core. The story unveils the awesome truth of what the human spirit can endure in graphic but restrained detail. Thompson’s “LOST” was retold in a made for TV movie in 1984.

Blood and Money (1976) was based on a true story of scandal and the murders of Houston socialite Joan Robinson Hill and her husband John Hill, and the alleged involvement of Mrs. Hill’s father, Ash Robinson, a wealthy Texas oil magnate. The book sold four million copies in fourteen languages. There were three lawsuits against Thompson after the book’s publication. Ann Kurth, John Hill’s second wife, sued Thompson for his description of her as a “sex bomb”. Kurth’s suit and that of a Longview, Texas police officer, were both dismissed. Ash Robinson, the father of Joan Robinson Hill, also sued Thompson for his portrayal in the book; Robinson was unsuccessful in his suit against Thompson.  Robinson had been allowed to read the book prior to its publication and initially said he approved of what Thompson had written about him.

 His only criticism was that he believed the book was too long. Thompson’s publishers withheld his royalties until all suits connected with the book were settled.
Thompson also wrote Serpentine (1979), the story of convicted murderer Charles Sobhraj. Thompson wrote one novel, Celebrity (1982), which was on the national best-seller list for six months. That novel became the basis for a five-hour mini series in 1984.

Thompson received the National Headliner Award for investigative reporting. He was also the 1977 Edgar Award winner for Blood and Money.

Thompson’s family believed that the liver disease that caused his death was contracted in the Far East while investigating the Charles Sobhraj saga. When he became ill, Thompson was teaching writing at the University of Southern California. Among his survivors were two sons, Kirk and Scott.

Thomas Thompson These are the books that I have read and reviewed
You can click to see the books and reviews below.

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A brilliant work of reportage.” —Larry McMurtry, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Lonesome Dove
“Thompson has done a terrific job on this gaudy story, which can hardly be surpassed for crass opulence, crude energy, and morbid fascination.” Newsweek

“The most gripping reading of the year.”Los Angeles Times 

In a genre notorious for mind-numbing repetition and endless information dumps,
Blood and Money: A true story of murder, passion, and power is fact organized into thread and woven to cloth to demonstrate Thomas Thompson’s mastery of pace and revelation in narrative, particularly when the outcome is already known. Joan Robinson Hill is dead on page two. The case is closed on page 446. But the verdict has nothing to do with her sudden and untimely demise—or it does it?

Lofty heights of Kirby Drive in Houston’s River Oaks, Spanish moss festoons the ancient live oak trees standing on expansive and well-manicured estates, succumb to West Coast crack houses, Vegas casinos, and East Texas pool halls where Thompson proves beyond a reasonable doubt that beneath whatever veneer we choose to wear, we are, each of us, subject to basic carnal instincts. Alexander Watson, author of River Queenshttps://www.riverqueens.us

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Author: Thomas Thompson

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A Different Kind of Fire has been selected as a finalist in the Women Fiction Writers’ Association’s STAR award in the debut novel category. The winners will be announced on September 27, 2019 at the Annual WFWA Retreat in Santa Fe, New Mexico. – Women’s Fiction Writers’ Association:

“If you love historical novels about women who throw off the shackles of feminine convention, then this book is for you. In spare but sensuous prose reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy and E. Annie Proulx, Schafer brings Ruby Schmidt to life—a woman who doesn’t belong in the late nineteenth century but gradually finds her place in the twentieth. You can’t help but root for Ruby as she grows from Texas farm girl, to a freethinker and lover of men and women in Philadelphia, and finally into a consummate artist. This is a powerful and deeply satisfying read.”—Helena Echlin  Author / Co-Author, GONE / SPARKED

Ruby Schmidt certainly is a woman who has chased her demons her whole life. Her challenges were many and her rewards few. The desires of lust and recognition of talent are forces that will lead Ruby to heaven and hell many times over.

This is a historical romance that takes place in Texas and Pennsylvania mostly involving 4 people. Ruby, her 2 husbands, one she divorces, and one she buries, and Willow her lesbian lover.

The sexual scenes in this book, in my opinion, makes it a R rated book, BUT, they really need to be in the book to make it realistic. I just think there should be a description in the overview of the book, so people are warned before they buy it.

This story certainly makes me appreciate not having to live in the age of women being nothing more than a object to be owned by her husband and no recognition for the talents that equaled her male peers.

This is a very emotional story and you will find yourself being caught up in all of Ruby’s sorrows, tribulations and triumphs.

IJ

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Author: Suanne Schafer

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Suanne Schafer, born in West Texas at the height of the Cold War, finds it ironic that grade school drills for tornadoes and nuclear war were the same: hide beneath your desk and kiss your rear-end goodbye. Now a retired family-practice physician whose only child has fledged the nest, her pioneer ancestors and world travels fuel her imagination.She originally planned to write romances, but either as a consequence of a series of failed relationships or a genetic distrust of happily-ever-after, her heroines are strong women who battle tough environments and intersect with men who might—or might not—love them.

Suanne completed the Stanford University Creative Writing Certificate program. Her short works have been featured in print and on-line magazines (Bête Noire; Brain, Child; Empty Sink Publishing; and Three Line Poetry) and anthologies: (Night Lights; Graveyard; 166 Palms; and Licked). Her debut women’s fiction novel, A Different Kind of Fire, explores the life of Ruby Schmidt, a nineteenth century artist who escapes—and returns—to West Texas. Suanne’s next book explores the heartbreak and healing of an American physician caught up in the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Suanne Schafer These are the books that I have read and reviewed
You can click to see the books and reviews below.

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Ruby Schmidt has the talent, the drive, even the guts to enroll in art school, leaving behind her childhood home and the beau she dreamed of marrying. Her life at the Academy seems heavenly at first, but she soon learns that societal norms in the East are as restrictive as those back home in West Texas. Rebelling against the insipid imagery woman are expected to produce, Ruby embraces bohemian life. Her burgeoning sexuality drives her into a life-long love affair with another woman and into the arms of an Italian baron. With the Panic of 1893, the nation spirals into a depression, and Ruby’s career takes a similar downward trajectory. After thinking she could have it all, Ruby now wonders how she can salvage the remnants of her life. Pregnant and broke, she returns to Texas rather than join the queues at the neighborhood soup kitchen. Set against the Gilded Age of America, a time when suffragettes fight for reproductive rights and the right to vote, A Different Kind of Fire depicts one woman’s battle to balance husband, family, career, and ambition. Torn between her childhood sweetheart, her forbidden passion for another woman, the Italian nobleman she had to marry, and becoming a renowned painter, Ruby’s choices mold her in ways she could never have foreseen.

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Author: Suanne Schafer

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“A novel planned on the grandest possible scale…One of those occasions when a writer has aimed high and then summoned every ounce of energy, talent, seriousness, and passion of which he was capable..It is an entirely interesting and impressive book.”
The New York Herald Tribune
“A fantasia and myth…a strange and original work of art.”
The New York Times Book Review
“When the book club ended a year ago, I said I would bring it back when I found the book that was moving…and this is a great one. I read it for myself for the first time and then I had some friends read it. And we think it might be the best novel we’ve ever read!”
—Oprah Winfrey

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero https://youtu.be/mhhkGyJ092E calls to us from the ether with a wee tattoo and simple riff. Neither changes; neither is in a hurry; both know what’s coming. A simple fantasy will turn dark, frenzied, carnal, before ending in tympanic roar.

John Steinbeck’s East of Eden calls to us from nineteenth century pioneering Salinas Valley, California—a bucolia of hard scrabble and opportunity. Character after character, one after another and each on some errand hither and yon, is introduced as if the reader were on holiday, perhaps visiting a relative, at some county fair. Steinbeck is in no hurry; he knows what’s coming.

What is coming is evil; the kind we, in the Trumpian Era, look for in every headline, tweet, or meme. The simple fantasy that was to be a fresh start, a level playing field, optimism and renewal turns irrevocably to sexual perversion, drug addiction, greed and extortion before ending (spoiler alert:) in a cataclysm of suicide, vainglory, and stroke—in that order.

It is a story for our time: of putting attitudes and actions of self-aggrandizement ahead of conscientious stewardship for the planet and its inhabitants, East of Eden shows us a future.

—Alexander Watson, author of River Queens: Saucy boat, stout mates, spotted dog, America. https://www.riverqueens.us

Author: John Steinbeck

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John Steinbeck III was an American writer. He wrote the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and the novella Of Mice and Men, published in 1937. In all, he wrote twenty-five books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books and several collections of short stories.

In 1962 Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Steinbeck grew up in the Salinas Valley region of California, a culturally diverse place of rich migratory and immigrant history. This upbringing imparted a regionalistic flavor to his writing, giving many of his works a distinct sense of place.

Steinbeck moved briefly to New York City, but soon returned home to California to begin his career as a writer. Most of his earlier work dealt with subjects familiar to him from his formative years. An exception was his first novel Cup of Gold which concerns the pirate Henry Morgan, whose adventures had captured Steinbeck’s imagination as a child.

In his subsequent novels, Steinbeck found a more authentic voice by drawing upon direct memories of his life in California. Later he used real historical conditions and events in the first half of 20th century America, which he had experienced first-hand as a reporter.

Steinbeck often populated his stories with struggling characters; his works examined the lives of the working class and migrant workers during the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. His later body of work reflected his wide range of interests, including marine biology, politics, religion, history, and mythology.

One of his last published works was Travels with Charley, a travelogue of a road trip he took in 1960 to rediscover America. He died in 1968 in New York of a heart attack and his ashes are interred in Salinas.

Seventeen of his works, including The Grapes of Wrath (1940), Cannery Row (1945), The Pearl (1947), and East of Eden (1952), went on to become Hollywood films, and Steinbeck also achieved success as a Hollywood writer, receiving an Academy Award nomination for Best Story in 1944 for Alfred Hitchcock’s Lifeboat.

John Steinbeck These are the books that I have read and reviewed
You can click to see the books and reviews below.

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In his journal, Nobel Prize winner John Steinbeck called East of Eden “the first book,” and indeed it has the primordial power and simplicity of myth. Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

The masterpiece of Steinbeck’s later years, East of Eden is a work in which Steinbeck created his most mesmerizing characters and explored his most enduring themes: the mystery of identity, the inexplicability of love, and the murderous consequences of love’s absence. Adapted for the 1955 film directed by Elia Kazan introducing James Dean, and read by thousands as the book that brought Oprah’s Book Club back, East of Eden has remained vitally present in American culture for over half a century.

Author: John Steinbeck

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Along the banks of the Neches river, surrounded by the dense piney woods of east Texas, there lives a pack of liars, thieves, and fools that Mimosa Mabry reluctantly calls family. After a lifetime spent trying to put the place behind her, the kinfolk have come calling. They want her home.

Against her better judgement Mo returns, but finds the answer she’s searching for–the truth about a child named Lucy–slipping further from her grasp. She’s forgotten that in deep east Texas, at the mercy of your kin, truth is relative. As enigmatic as a carnival shell game. And the game is rigged.

Author: Eliza Maxwell

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