Book Review: Stars in the Texas Sky by Stephen Matlock

stars int he texas sky

Stars in the Texas Sky by Stephen Matlock

A Fiction Novel published on amazon.com (07/01/2012)

Summary:

Windmill is a tranquil orderly town in the middle of Texas where change is slow in coming in the year 1952. Tabitha tells the mayor about Windmill on page 34, “It’s small-minded. Nothing Ever happens here. It’s just a wide spot with two roads running into each other. No one comes here – they all come from  here.”

Benjamin Clark has been on the short end of the stick his whole life, ever since he understood that his skin color made him different to others’ eyes. Henry Valentine  is the Junior Safety Patrol Officer who is growing up on the right side of town. Both boys are passionate about baseball, have a growing interest in girls, and question the system of race.

 

Keywords:

 Texas in the 1950’s, racial tension, coming-of-age, boys becoming men, hard life lessons, inequality, corruption, stuck in ways, friendship

 

My Review:

Stephen Matlock has confronted a sticky issue in this book. He confronts the topic through the eyes and eventual friendship of two boys born so different because of skin-color and so similar because of their love and passion for baseball and doing what is right. Matlock confronts this issue in the light of growing up and becoming a man. It is a coming of age novel. The boys are just around 13 years old and the reader gets to feel their confusion and frustration in the backwards-thinking town that they currently live in. Matlock masterfully tells a coming-of-age story relevant for any reader, for he tells the story of understanding, honesty, thinking for yourself, standing up for what is right and what you believe in, and more. The story goes deeper than just a boy and an unlikely friend and deeper even than racial tension in a small Texas town. There is fighting, murder, revenge – all the makings of an intriguing read.

Matlock has many life lessons packed into this book. There are so many coming of age themes that I thought the one about the boys’ confusion about girls and their growing feelings towards girls was unnecessary for the story.

Matlock also had a tendency to repeat his life lessons. I love the quotable bits but it does get a little hit-you-on-the head until you get it as you read along. Throughout the novel Matlock writes some profound tidbits, like “Dreams lead to sorrow same as night leads to day.” (Page 5). Matlock certainly has a way with his words and his dialogue is ten out of ten.

It’s only natural that a book’s language should match the time period and setting. Stephen J. Matlock does just that – naturally weaving in descriptions that match the time and the place – which is difficult to do unless you are a master of your craft. The only part that caught me by surprise was the climax in the middle of the book, setting me adrift in a sea of unexpected plot turns, but Matlock firmly led me ashore when the subplot he had been building broke through the surface, tying all the elements together in the end. Still, if only he didn’t end the main story (in my mind) half way through the book I would have been way more satisfied.

What is growing up?

“‘Son, you gotta learn how it is in this town and this country. You keep your head down, don’t look a white man in the eyes, don’t be looking at a white woman, and just never ever think of touching a white woman less’n ou want to lose an arm. Never.'” (page 32).

“Growing up means you learn to accept things the way they are.” (Page 61).

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a historical fiction book set in America (the South) or a coming-of-age novel.

This novel was published through Createspace Independent Publishing Platform 07/01/2012 and is available on Amazon here.

 

TLDR Star Rating: 4.00

 

Links for more information:

Stephen Matlock’s Website

Goodreads Profile

FreeValley Publishing’s Stephen Matlock

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FreeValley Publishing Authors: Upcoming Live Event at Snoqualmie Days

The Block Party - FPC

 

Remember that countdown timer on my blog? it’s for this event! Come see FreeValley Publishing’s booth and snag all those books you haven’t read yet. Check out new books by Rachel Barnard (At One’s Beast), Victoria Bastedo (Roots Entwine) and Jeffrey Cook (Dawn of Steam Gods of the Sun). For more information on FreeValley Publishing, check out their website here!

Authors will be available to meet you and to sign books. The event is at Center Blvd SE, Snoqualmie, WA from 10-5. Hope to see you there!

 

Aftermath of the North Bend Block Party This Past Saturday

fvp North Bend Block Party

 

I always have fun at these local festivals and enjoy spending time chatting with my local author buddies. We had such great support from the FreeValley Publishing authors, see how many we stuffed back in our space? My favorite booth was ours of course! Second was two booths down with the fresh picked blueberries from Cle Elum.

North Bend Block Party Author Appearances!

2014 North Bend Block Party poster

The FreeValley Publishing authors will host a booth at North Bend Days. Come down, show your support, listen to some music, and play games! For more information on FreeValley Publishing, the authors involved, and the books available for purchase, click here.

Maple Valley Days a Success

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(Photo courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

What a beautiful booth! The new canopy tent worked out really well, easy set up and tear down. We sold a good number of books even though the weather was quite poor over the weekend and the entire festival had record low numbers of attendance. Jeff was wonderful and manned the booth the entire time! Go Jeff! We met a number of aspiring authors. Overall the event was a success and thanks to all for helping out.

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(Photos courtesy of Sheri J. Kennedy)

Maple Valley Days and FreeValley Publishing

It quite difficult to publish a novel but that’s not where the self-published author can throw in the towel and head to the beach on vacation. Not at all, my word-inspired friends. A self-published author is not just the writer of the novel, but also the producer and manager. The author markets and researches. The author creates websites and promotional materials and goes to events to promote their book. And that takes hard work and quite a bit of determination.

Not all authors walk down the same path when they send a book out to be published, many more authors today are self-publishing and acting as their own agent. Some call them author-publishers. Some call them crazy. Come see for yourself what it is like to self-publish and promote your own book at Maple Valley Days. Two of your very own Maple Valley writers, as well as authors from North Bend and Snoqualmie will be at the FreeValley Publishing booth. Many of these writers are experts at self-publishing and are highly aware of the book-publishing industry. Everyone has a book inside, come read ours and see if you are ready to write yours.

 

Maple Valley Days 2014, June 13-15. FreeValley Publishing booth located near the Info booth.

 

MVD poster

Author Tuesdays: Poetry Reading in North Bend

 What a lovely night of Poetry! Thank you everyone for sharing your works as well as poetry from poets you admire/love

I shared two poems by one of my favorites Shel Silverstein: Noise Day and Shel Silverstein’s Cure for Writer’s Block

librarian

Thank you North Bend library for allowing us use of the space and endorsing Poetry and Poetry Month for this event!

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Our lovely books are displayed right alongside some of the classics in poetry

the crowd

The crowd gets ready for the readings

27 poetry years (4)

27 Years a Poet

vicky bastedo (1)

Vicky Bastedo

tommia wright (3)

T. Tommia Wright

stephen matlock (1)

Stephen J. Matlock

sheri kennedy (2)

Sheri J. Kennedy

linda garcia (5)

Linda Garcia

jackie (2)

Jackie Fedyk

david moore (4)

David S. Moore

Author Thursdays: Norwescon!

 

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Maple Valley Writers and FreeValley Publishing authors will be hosting a booth at Norwescon in the lobby.

Rachel Barnard and her work Ataxia and the Ravine of Lost Dreams will be promoted at this event.

You can talk to her in person Saturday during the event.

What is Norwescon?

The Pacific Northwest’s premier Fantasy and Science Fiction convention.

For more information on Norwescon: norwescon.org