A western book recommendation: West of Eden: An American Place by Jean Stein

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1TJafXh.
In a book that’s a study of the fleeting nature of worldly power, Stein, now 82, has grabbed for herself the only kind that lasts: She’s the one left standing, who gets to tell the story.
Book description from Google Books:
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • An epic, mesmerizing oral history of Hollywood and Los Angeles from the author of the contemporary classic EdieJean Stein transformed the art of oral history in her groundbreaking book Edie: American Girl, an indelible portrait of Andy Warhol “superstar” Edie Sedgwick, which was edited with George Plimpton. Now, in West of Eden, she turns to Los Angeles, the city of her childhood. Stein vividly captures a mythic cast of characters: their ambitions and triumphs as well as their desolation and grief. These stories illuminate the bold aspirations of five larger-than-life individuals and their families. West of Eden is a work of history both grand in scale and intimate in detail. At the center of each family is a dreamer who finds fortune and strife in Southern California: Edward Doheny, the Wisconsin-born oil tycoon whose corruption destroyed the reputation of a U.S. president and led to his own son’s violent death; Jack Warner, the son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who together with his brothers founded one of the world’s most iconic film studios; Jane Garland, the troubled daughter of an aspiring actress who could never escape her mother’s schemes; Jennifer Jones, an actress from Oklahoma who won the Academy Award at twenty-five but struggled with despair amid her fame and glamour. Finally, Stein chronicles the ascent of her own father, Jules Stein, an eye doctor born in Indiana who transformed Hollywood with the creation of an unrivaled agency and studio. In each chapter, Stein paints a portrait of an outsider who pins his or her hopes on the nascent power and promise of Los Angeles. Each individual’s unyielding intensity pushes loved ones, especially children, toward a perilous threshold. West of Eden depicts the city that has projected its own image of America onto the world, in all its idealism and paradox. As she did in Edie, Jean Stein weaves together the personal recollections of an array of individuals to create an astonishing tapestry of a place like no other.Praise for West of Eden“Compulsively readable, capturing not just a vibrant part of the history of Los Angeles—that uniquely ‘American Place’ Stein refers to in her subtitle—but also the real drama of this town . . . It’s like being at an insider’s cocktail party where the most delicious gossip about the rich and powerful is being dished by smart people, such as Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Arthur Miller and Dennis Hopper. . . . Mesmerizing.”—Los Angeles Times“Perhaps the most surprising thing that emerges from this riveting book is a glimpse of what seems like deep truth. It’s possible that oral history as Stein practices it . . . is as close as we’re going to come to the real story of anything.”—The New York Times Book Review “Enthralling . . . brings some of [L.A.’s] biggest personalities to life . . . As she did for Edie Sedgwick in Edie: American Girl, [Stein] harnesses a gossipy chorus of voices.”—Vogue “Even if you’re a connoisseur of Hollywood tales, you’ve probably never heard these. . . . As ever, gaudy, debauched, merciless Hollywood has the power to enthrall its audience.”—The Wall Street Journal “The tales of jaw-dropping excess, cruelty, and betrayal are the stuff of movies, and the pleasures are immense.”—Vanity Fair“This riveting oral history chronicles the development of Los Angeles, from oil boomtown to Tinseltown.”—Entertainment Weekly (“Must List”)From the Hardcover edition.
The book is rated 3.25/5 at goodreads.com, from 747 ratings. See 143 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1MiOrdf.
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A western book recommendation: As Good as Gone: A Novel by Larry Watson

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cMRVPB.
As the concluding five chapters unfold, the pacing of As Good as Gone builds momentum from its once-leisurely rhythm…But as with the reward of the lavender- and golden-hued sky to come, the ultimate effect of this novel is well worth the time spent watching.
Book description from Google Books:
The American West is bestselling author Larry Watson’s forte, and in this, his tenth novel, he has created his most vivid, genuine antihero yet in Calvin Sidey, a man stuck in a myth.   Calvin Sidey, steely, hardened, with his own personal code, is one of the last cowboys. It’s the 1960s, and he’s living off the grid in a trailer on the prairie when his adult son, Bill, seeks his help. A mostly absentee father and grandfather, Calvin nevertheless agrees to stay with his grandchildren for a week. He decamps for his son’s house in the small town where he once was a mythic figure, and soon enough problems arise: a boy’s attentions to seventeen-year-old Ann are increasingly aggressive, and a group of reckless kids portend danger for eleven-year-old Will. Calvin only knows one way to solve a problem: the Old West way, in which ultimatums are issued and your gun is always loaded. In the changing culture of the 1960s, Calvin isn’t just a relic; he’s a wild card. At the same time, his old-school ways exert a powerful effect on those around him, from the widowed neighbor, Beverly Lodge, who feels herself falling for him and wants to be part of his life, to his grandchildren. Ann and Will see in their grandfather a man who brings a sudden, if shocking, order to their lives, as Calvin terrorizes those who have often terrorized them. With the crisp, restrained prose for which Larry Watson is revered, As Good as Gone is a story of a man increasingly at odds with the world. This is Larry Watson at his best.Praise for Larry Watson: “With rugged prose as biting as a northern plains wind . . . Watson writes of people universal in their flaws and virtues, a community that cannot be defined or limited to one region or genre.” –The Washington Post Book World
The book is rated 3.66/5 at goodreads.com, from 883 ratings. See 180 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2bgdIM5.
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A western book recommendation: Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter (Where the Trail Ends) by Anna Schmidt

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1QSEvMA.
I also hope to see more of the other strong female characters. Readers wanting a good old fashioned Western romance need look no further than this one.
Book description from Google Books:
“A feisty heroine and a hero eager to make everything right. What more could a reader want?”—Leigh Greenwood, USA Today bestselling author of To Love and to CherishFirst in a historical Western series set in the sweeping 1885 Arizona Territory, Maria is in for the fight of her life keeping a greedy corporate conglomerate off her land and drifter cowboy Chet out of her heart.Caught between a greedy corporation and a desperate love of the land, Maria Porterfield barely has time to mourn her father’s death. If her family is to survive, it’ll be up to her to take charge—but she can’t do it alone. When a mysterious drifter rides into town, the handsome cowboy seems like an answer to her prayers. But Chet isn’t interested in settling down, no matter how tempting the offer…Chet made his way West looking for a fresh start—the last thing he wants is to get involved in someone else’s fight. But something about Maria awakens a powerful need to protect the fierce beauty at all costs. He never thought he’d find love, but as danger presses in, he may find there’s more beyond the next horizon than just another long and dusty trail.Where the Trail Ends Series: Last Chance Cowboys: The Drifter (Book 1) Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman (Book 2) Last Chance Cowboys: The Outlaw (Book 3) Last Chance Cowboys: The Rancher (Book 4)
The book is rated 3.62/5 at goodreads.com, from 55 ratings. See 21 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2irRdEM.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

A western book recommendation: A Hanging at Cinder Bottom: A Novel by Glenn Taylor

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1RrhJcZ.
Taylor has a poet’s eye, and though he trains it on somber theme…he believes in the end that, damaged or not, we harbor the capacity to take the muck of our mistakes and our milieu and make “beautiful things.” Just as he has done.
Book description from Google Books:
The year is 1910. Halley’s Comet has just signaled the end of the world, and Jack Johnson has knocked out the “Great White Hope,” Jim Jeffries. Keystone, West Virginia, is the region’s biggest boomtown, and on a rainy Sunday morning in August, its townspeople are gathered in a red-light district known as Cinder Bottom to witness the first public hanging in over a decade. Abe Baach and Goldie Toothman are at the gallows, awaiting their execution. He’s Keystone’s most famous poker player; she’s the madam of its most infamous brothel. Abe split town seven years prior under suspicion of armed robbery and murder, and has been playing cards up and down the coast, hustling under a variety of pseudonyms, ever since. But when he returns to Keystone to reunite with Goldie and to set the past right, he finds a brother dead and his father’s saloon in shambles—and suspects the same men might be responsible for both. Only then, in facing his family’s past, does the real swindle begin.Glenn Taylor, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, has a unique voice that breathes life into history and a prose style that snaps with lyricism and comedy.
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 303 ratings. See 45 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1RrhL4S.
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A western book recommendation: Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/1IRitEU.
…Lansdale has pulled out all the stops to deliver a rip-roaring tale completely in keeping with dime novel traditions and the cinematic hyperbole of “Blazing Saddles” or “Django Unchained.”
Book description from Google Books:
A Library Journal Best Book of 2015!A rollicking novel about Nat Love, an African-American cowboy with a famous nickname: Deadwood Dick.Young Willie is on the run, having fled his small Texas farm when an infamous local landowner murdered his father. A man named Loving takes him in and trains him in the fine arts of shooting, riding, reading, and gardening. When Loving dies, Willie re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute to his mentor, and heads west. In Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier and is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok. After winning a famous shooting match, Nat’s peerless marksmanship and charm earn him the nickname Deadwood Dick, as well as a beautiful woman. But the hellhounds are still on his trail, and they brutally attack Nat Love’s love. Pursuing the men who have driven his wife mad, Nat heads south for a final, deadly showdown against those who would strip him of his home, his love, his freedom, and his life.
The book is rated 4.28/5 at goodreads.com, from 924 ratings. See 199 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1IRiw3A.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tQiEgx.

A western book recommendation: Paradise Sky by Joe R. Lansdale

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/1IRitEU.
…Lansdale has pulled out all the stops to deliver a rip-roaring tale completely in keeping with dime novel traditions and the cinematic hyperbole of “Blazing Saddles” or “Django Unchained.”
Book description from Google Books:
A Library Journal Best Book of 2015!A rollicking novel about Nat Love, an African-American cowboy with a famous nickname: Deadwood Dick.Young Willie is on the run, having fled his small Texas farm when an infamous local landowner murdered his father. A man named Loving takes him in and trains him in the fine arts of shooting, riding, reading, and gardening. When Loving dies, Willie re-christens himself Nat Love in tribute to his mentor, and heads west. In Deadwood, South Dakota Territory, Nat becomes a Buffalo Soldier and is befriended by Wild Bill Hickok. After winning a famous shooting match, Nat’s peerless marksmanship and charm earn him the nickname Deadwood Dick, as well as a beautiful woman. But the hellhounds are still on his trail, and they brutally attack Nat Love’s love. Pursuing the men who have driven his wife mad, Nat heads south for a final, deadly showdown against those who would strip him of his home, his love, his freedom, and his life.
The book is rated 4.28/5 at goodreads.com, from 924 ratings. See 199 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1IRiw3A.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2tQiEgx.

A western book recommendation: Beautiful Bad Man by Ellen O’Connell

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1PjVOX8.
I took the chance to sneak it in. Turns out ML’s rec was right on the money. I also love that Early made the book cover.
Book description from Google Books:
In 1866 on the empty Kansas prairie, two children shared a few desperate moments that changed their lives. For years afterward, each nursed a secret dream – that the other had grown into a special person – brave, good, kind. When Norah Hawkins and Caleb Sutton cross paths again, dreams die. She is a bitter, suicidal widow. He is a gunman with little conscience and few scruples. Alternately angry, repelled, and attracted, the two form an uneasy partnership to hold land she owns and he covets against a marauding neighbor. Their bargain never included love, or did it?
The book is rated 4.07/5 at goodreads.com, from 1543 ratings. See 153 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1PjVPdB.
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A western book recommendation: The Devil You Know by Jo Goodman

A critic review (source Dear Author) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2cZjAYj.
There might have been a few early draggy bits and the Pancake family certainly don’t push to know what danger might be lurking and waiting to leap at them via Israel. But as a good study of coming to terms with the bumpy realities of marrying someone with a murky past, in the second half this book bounced back and grabbed me…
Book description from Google Books:
From the USA Today bestselling author of This Gun for Hire and one of today’s “premier western romance writers,”* a captivating new Western historical romance . . .   WHAT HE DOESN’T KNOW . . .   After a horse drags him through the countryside, Israel McKenna awakes bruised and battered in a field in Pancake Valley, Colorado. He can recall where he came from and where he was going, but the memory of how he came to be on the Pancake homestead eludes him. He’s certain he did something wrong to deserve such a harsh punishment–and so is the beautiful woman who reluctantly comes to his aid.   . . . COULD HURT HER.   Wilhelmina “Willa” Pancake must focus on running her family’s ranch. With Israel’s hazy memory, she is unsure if she can trust him, let alone handle the budding attraction between them. And as men fight to steal her land and the truth about Israel’s past rides toward them, love is a risk she cannot easily take.
The book is rated 3.91/5 at goodreads.com, from 207 ratings. See 58 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/24FOubD.
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A western book recommendation: Dog Run Moon: Stories by Callan Wink

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/1qabO3G.
Mr. Wink writes with depth and raw feeling about fathers and sons. There’s a story here about a father who pays his young son to kill 50 or so barn cats that I may never get out of my mind.
Book description from Google Books:
In the tradition of Richard Ford, Annie Proulx, and Kent Haruf comes a dazzling debut story collection by a young writer from the American West who has been published in The New Yorker, Granta, and The Best American Short Stories.   A construction worker on the run from the shady local businessman whose dog he has stolen; a Custer’s Last Stand reenactor engaged in a long-running affair with the Native American woman who slays him on the battlefield every year; a middle-aged high school janitor caught in a scary dispute over land and cattle with her former stepson: Callan Wink’s characters are often confronted with predicaments few of us can imagine. But thanks to the humor and remarkable empathy of this supremely gifted writer, the nine stories gathered in Dog Run Moon are universally transporting and resonant.   Set mostly in Montana and Wyoming, near the borders of Yellowstone National Park, this revelatory collection combines unforgettable insight into the fierce beauty of the West with a powerful understanding of human beings. Tender, frequently hilarious, and always electrifying, Dog Run Moon announces the arrival of a bold new talent writing deep in the American grain.   Advance praise for Dog Run Moon   “The perils of work and the weight of bequeathal fuel these stories, and each one holds a lasting, unshakable image. Sometimes grace is bestowed upon the characters in a sidewindering, not altogether fabulous fashion; sometimes it’s not bestowed at all. Callan Wink seems to know well the stratagems and delusions of men’s hearts. He also seems born and bred to short-story mastery.”–Joy Williams, author of The Visiting Privilege   “Callan Wink’s debut is impressive indeed. Fine, old-fashioned, rich and juicy fiction. Weeks later I’m still living with the characters.”–Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall   “Callan Wink’s fresh, urgent stories have an energy and propulsion that set them well apart from the cerebral finger painting of so much literary fiction. Here is a writer with a great big horizon.”–Thomas McGuane, author of Crow Fair “Callan Wink’s stories remind me of expertly tied trout flies–beautifully crafted, true to reality, and barbed. What a fine young writer.”–Ron Rash, author of Above the Waterfall “As in all the best collections, each and every story in Dog Run Moon sings in the essential registers of love and death, work and nature. Callan Wink has the wisdom to write only of the things that matter, and the talent to make these stories as fresh as the literary headwaters from which they come.”–Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek “Myth and history color these highly satisfying fictions about the way men and women struggle to shape their lives.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review)   “Wink stakes his bold claim to Big Sky literary territory, the terrain of Thomas McGuane, Norman Maclean, and Jim Harrison. . . . A fly-fishing guide in Montana, Wink suffuses every page with his love of the land. No matter what their circumstances, he never condescends to his characters, who all suffer from longings that cause them to make decisions they don’t quite understand. But through the transparency of his writing, at once delicate and brutally precise, the author gifts us with the wonderful feeling of knowing someone you’ve only met in a book.”–Publishers Weekly
The book is rated 4.02/5 at goodreads.com, from 361 ratings. See 79 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1qabNgq.
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A western book recommendation: Heyday: A Novel by Kurt Andersen

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/1WC0sE5.
…he skillfully melds seeming disparate happenings — a global jigsaw, if you will — into a narrative that is both convincing and entertainingly readable.
Book description from Google Books:
Heydayis a brilliantly imagined, wildly entertaining tale of America’s boisterous coming of age–a sweeping panorama of madcap rebellion and overnight fortunes, palaces and brothels, murder and revenge–as well as the story of a handful of unforgettable characters discovering the nature of freedom, loyalty, friendship, and true love. In the middle of the nineteenth century, modern life is being born: the mind-boggling marvels of photography, the telegraph, and railroads; a flood of show business spectacles and newspapers; rampant sex and drugs and drink (and moral crusades against all three); Wall Street awash with money; and giddy utopian visions everywhere. Then, during a single amazing month at the beginning of 1848, history lurches: America wins its war of manifest destiny against Mexico, gold is discovered in northern California, and revolutions sweep across Europe–sending one eager English gentleman off on an epic transatlantic adventure. . . . Amid the tumult, aristocratic Benjamin Knowles impulsively abandons the Old World to reinvent himself in New York, where he finds himself embraced by three restless young Americans: Timothy Skaggs, muckraking journalist, daguerreotypist, pleasure-seeker, stargazer; the fireman Duff Lucking, a sweet but dangerously damaged veteran of the Mexican War; and Duff’s dazzling sister Polly Lucking, a strong-minded, free thinking actress (and discreet part-time prostitute) with whom Ben falls hopelessly in love. Beckoned by the frontier, new beginnings, and the prospects of the California Gold Rush, all four set out on a transcontinental race west–relentlessly tracked, unbeknownst to them,by a cold-blooded killer bent on revenge. A fresh, impeccable portrait of an era startlingly reminiscent of our own times,Heydayis by turns tragic and funny and sublime, filled with bona fide heroes and lost souls, visionaries (Walt Whitman, Charles Darwin, Alexis de Tocqueville) and monsters, expanding horizons and narrow escapes. It is also an affecting story of four people passionately chasing their American dreams at a time when America herself was still being dreamed up–an enthralling, old-fashioned yarn interwoven with a bracingly modern novel of ideas. “In this utterly engaging novel, the author ofTurn of the Centurybrings 19th-century America vividly to life . . . While this is a long book, it moves quickly, with historical detail that’s involving but never a drag on the action; the characters are beautifully drawn. A terrific book; highly recommended.”–Library Journal “Heydayis fuled by manic energy, fanatical research, and a wicked sense of humor…. It’s a joyful, wild gallop through a joyful, wild time to be an American.”-Vanity Fair
The book is rated 3.50/5 at goodreads.com, from 1076 ratings. See 259 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1R7pjqG.
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