The Edge of Belonging: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Excerpt

Genre: Christian Contemporary Fiction 
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
Number of Pages: 400
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When Ivy Rose returns to her hometown to oversee her late grandmother’s estate sale, she soon discovers that the woman left behind more than trinkets and photo framesshe provided a path to the truth behind Ivy’s adoption. Shocked, Ivy seeks clues to her past, but a key piece to the mystery is missing. Twenty-four years earlier, Harvey James finds an abandoned newborn who gives him a sense of human connection for the first time in his life. His desire to care for the baby runs up against the stark fact that he is homeless. When he becomes entwined with two people seeking to help him find his way, Harvey knows he must keep the baby a secret or risk losing the only person he’s ever loved. In this dual-timeline story from debut novelist Amanda Cox, the truthboth the search for it and the desire to keep it from otherstakes center stage as Ivy and Harvey grapple with love, loss, and letting go.

Excerpt from The Edge of Belonging, Chapter One

by Amanda Cox


September 8, 1994

People considered him homeless because he didn’t have an address of his own, but Harvey James would’ve been home­less even if he owned the turreted mansion off State Route 460. To have a home, you’d have to feel as though you belonged. The edge of the highway was the closest he’d ever been.

Unending blasts of headlights and rushes of wind from passing cars on the bypass glanced off the brush he scoured for bits of other people’s lives. Things not missed. Some flung out of car windows in anger. Others, accidental losses from poorly secured luggage racks. He brushed his humidity-­damp mop back from his eyes, detaching the sprigs plastered to his forehead.

Straining to decipher shapes out of step with the wild tangle of weeds, Harvey walked the line—­the boundary between what the state groomed to maintain the road’s scenic status and the places left untouched and feral. He raised the flashlight he’d found last week. The beam cut through the descending darkness.

A suitcase lay on its side, scarred by road rash. He knelt and fumbled with the zipper. He groaned. More Hawaiian-­print shirts and swim trunks. It’d be nice if someone lost normal clothes for a change.

He grabbed the stack of shirts and three miniature bottles of hotel shampoo and crammed them into his bag.

A break in the swift-­moving traffic swathed the shoulder in an eerie silence. An odd sound reached his ears—­soft but jarring in its inconsistency with the road noise. Mewling. An abandoned kitten?

Harvey’s heart dropped three inches in his chest. In all his scavenging, nothing horrified him more than living things discarded.

He’d tried to keep an abandoned dog once. Poor old fella. Deaf and half blind he’d suspected. The dog didn’t last long. Highways were places for rush and madness. Not living things.

With a lingering sigh, he turned back toward his camp. It was an ugly truth, but the creature would be better off if he let nature take its course instead of nursing an animal along, only delaying the inevitable.

Three cars raced past, each vying to overtake the other. They torpedoed the silence with the harsh roar of their removed mufflers, sending a jolt down his spine.

As the sound trailed away, Harvey’s ears retained a ring. He massaged the hinge of his jaw to rub out the sound. The tiny cry sounded in the stillness. This time stronger, angry. Harvey froze.


Making a slow turn, Harvey raised his flashlight to scour the brush in search of the source.

Traffic resumed, and the rushes of wind threw sound. He opened his mouth to call out, to let the little thing know he was coming, but the ridiculousness of the impulse resealed his lips.

The flashlight in his trembling hand sent a jittering stream of light along the scrub. He walked on, straining his ears.

Finally, another break in traffic. In the silent interlude, the cry sounded, coming from deeper in the brush than he’d originally thought.

There. A trail tramped down where someone had gone before him. He slapped away the limbs hanging across his path, sweeping the flashlight from side to side. The pounding of his heart mirrored the urgency of the feeble wail.

Harvey stopped midstep. Five feet ahead, a bunch of fabric squirmed on the ground. He sucked in his breath and crept forward.

He knelt, and the undergrowth pricked his knees. A funny smell hung in the air, both sweet and sharp. Harvey laid the flashlight on the ground, aiming the light, then reached for a corner of the fabric to uncover this foreign being whose squall had receded to feeble grunts and whimpers.

He recoiled. The tiny thing with squinched-­tight eyes was covered in drying blood and a white cheesy substance. Taking the corner of the fabric, he wiped the baby’s face, crouching close as he inspected for injury. The baby stilled at his touch and gave a languid blink. Their gazes locked for a fleeting moment.

Everything faded. No sound of road noise. No buzz of mosquitos by his ear. A tiny fist raised. He brushed the baby’s palm, and it wound its pink fingers around Harvey’s thumb.

Warmth exploded in his chest, then traveled all the way through him. He swept the bundle into his arms and with a spare shirt rubbed until the child’s perfect pink skin was cleared of blood. An injury-free baby girl. Naked. Wrapped in a man’s flannel shirt.

Harvey stood and turned a slow circle, babe pressed close. Where had she come from? Who left her behind?

He undid the top two buttons of his large shirt and tucked the baby inside to share his heat. Would the wild pounding of his heart hurt her ears?

She had a full head of dark, downy hair. Now dried, it stood up in fuzzy curls that tickled his chest. He stroked her cheek, and she jerked her head toward his touch, searching. Faint grunts. She bobbed her open mouth against his skin. “Sorry, little one. I don’t have anything for you. Let’s get back to camp, and we’ll figure something out.” He had boxes of things stored for the day he found a use for them, but none contained bottles and infant formula.

Baby girl, finally convinced food wasn’t available, ceased her fretting, nuzzled, and fell asleep, lulled by the sway of his long stride. Harvey pressed his lips in a line.

Should he pack her in a basket and deposit her on the doorstep of a nice suburban home? A hospital? A shudder ran through him, and she squirmed against the movement. No. He wouldn’t leave her. He’d spent his own childhood tossed about at the whims of others, and he didn’t want that life for this little one, who was no more than a few hours old and had already been abandoned.

Please click here to continue reading chapter one from The Edge of Belonging by Amanda Cox.

Amanda Cox is a blogger and a curriculum developer for a national nonprofit youth leadership organization, but her first love is communicating through story. 
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Bible and theology and a master’s degree in professional counseling. Her studies and her interactions with hurting families over a decade have allowed her to create multidimensional characters that connect emotionally with readers. 
Amanda lives in Tennessee with her husband and their three children.
THREE WINNERS  1st: Copy of The Edge of Belonging + Fern Tote Bag  + $25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card  2nd and 3rd: Copy of The Edge of Belonging + $10 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 
September 1-11, 2020
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All Things Left Wild: Lone Star Book Blog Tour – Review

James Wade

Genre: Adventure / Rural Fiction / Coming of Age
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publication Date: June 16, 2020
Number of Pages: 304 pages

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After an attempted horse theft goes tragically wrong, sixteen-year-old Caleb Bentley is on the run with his mean-spirited older brother across the American Southwest at the turn of the twentieth century. Caleb’s moral compass and inner courage will be tested as they travel the harsh terrain and encounter those who have carved out a life there, for good or ill. 

Wealthy and bookish Randall Dawson, out of place in this rugged and violent country, is begrudgingly chasing after the Bentley brothers. With little sense of how to survive, much less how to take his revenge, Randall meets Charlotte, a woman experienced in the deadly ways of life in the West. Together they navigate the murky values of vigilante justice.

Powerful and atmospheric, lyrical and fast-paced, All Things Left Wild is a coming-of-age for one man, a midlife odyssey for the other, and an illustration of the violence and corruption prevalent in our fast-expanding country. It artfully sketches the magnificence of the American West as mirrored in the human soul.

PRAISE for All Things Left Wild:
“A debut full of atmosphere and awe. Wade gives emotional depth to his dust-covered characters and creates an image of the American West that is harsh and unforgiving, but — like All Things Left Wild — not without hope.” — Texas Literary Hall of Fame member Sarah Bird, Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen

“James Wade has delivered a McCarthy-esque odyssey with an Elmore Leonard ear for dialogue. All Things Left Wild moves like a coyote across this cracked-earth landscape—relentlessly paced and ambitiously hungry.” — Edgar Award finalist David Joy, When These Mountains Burn

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     All Things Left Wild is a remarkable debut novel by a very gifted author. Written in a style reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy, it deals with issues of life and death in a world where people endure rather than prevail, where morality doesn’t exist, and where violent acts are so horrific that innocence is forever lost and salvation beyond reach.
     The story is set in Arizona, New Mexico, and on both sides of the Rio Grande in Mexico and Texas. It is a vast, rugged, treacherous, yet sublimely beautiful landscape. James Wade writes for visual impact and his descriptions of this part of the world conjure indelible breathtaking images of a pristine unchanging land corrupted only by the lawlessness and cruelty of man.
     There are but two natures, one is man’s – human nature – and the other is nature itself from which we have separated ourselves.
     Caleb Bentley and Randal Dawson are the two main characters in this exploration of men’s souls. Both are tragically linked by the death of Dawson’s twelve year old son. In a botched horse theft, Caleb accidentally kills the boy and now desperately seeks forgiveness and redemption as he flees across the American Southwest. If he can escape, he hopes to… never give another thought to all these things left wild.
     Randall is in pursuit, out for vengeance to somehow prove his manhood, but ill-prepared for the journey over unforgiving terrain or the lawlessness and violence that he encounters along the way that will change him into that which he loathes.
     He would become all things that he hated and thus grow to hate himself, and in that hate he would find the only solace left to him. He would let it fester and rot until every trace of his humanity became consumed by blackness. If the world was full of monsters, he would
become one.
     James Wade’s personal and direct style of writing, his passionate voice, elaborate dialogue, poetic language, and unapologetic graphic depictions of pure evil are hypnotic. There are passages with so much lyricism in them that I found myself reading and re-reading them over and over again.
     The novel doesn’t neatly fit into any particular genre or category. Though it takes place in the west, it is not your typical western. Set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, it is not your usual action-adventure. Describing the loss of innocence, it is not your normal coming of age book. It is at once a beautiful elegy to the land and a profound look into our existence and our mortality.
     The world is of itself and nothing else, and it will be as it is and as it always was. There is no changing for the world, only for the man.
     Deeply fatalistic; evil is an inexplicable reality and death is inescapable, All Things Left Wild belongs in a category all to itself. In a word, it is extraordinary!
     I received an advance copy of this book in exchange for my review.


James Wade lives and writes in Austin, Texas, with his wife and daughter. He has had twenty short stories published in various literary magazines and journals. He is the winner of the Writers’ League of Texas Manuscript Contest and a finalist of the Tethered by Letters Short Fiction Contest. All Things Left Wild is his debut novel.
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TWO WINNERS: A signed copy of All Things Left Wild
JUNE 18-28, 2020
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