Can’t Wait Wednesday: A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings. This is a weekly meme to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. The books I choose aren’t released yet and usually won’t be published for at least two or three months.

I love finding out about books which will publish in future months and I like to share my excitement about the books. I also like to find out about new books on other people’s blogs and hope they’ll sometimes find something to look forward to on my blog.

I’m excited to read . . .

A Reckoning in the Back Country by Terry Shames

Series: Samuel Craddock #7

Published by Seventh Street Books

Publishing date: January 9, 2018

Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural

272 pages

Synopsis: A neurologist from San Antonio vacationing in Jarrett Creek goes missing. When Acting Police Chief Samuel Craddock investigates, the doctor’s wife claims her husband has been kidnapped, though no ransom demands have surfaced or any other evidence.

The next day two boys hunting squirrels find his mangled body in the woods, and Craddock suspects a wild dog attack. Rumor has it that dogs bred for fighting have been let loose and run in packs in the wooded acres west of the lake. The more he looks into it, the more evidence he finds that the area where the doctor’s body was discovered has been the scene of dog-fighting contests.

But Craddock is leery about asking too many questions. In the past, Texas lawmen have turned up dead while investigating this lucrative gambling practice, and he senses that the dogs could be set on him. 


I’ve read several books in this excellent mystery series. I like that Samuel Craddock is an honest, upstanding lawman. He knows the people in this part of Texas and wants to do right by them. I’m three or four books behind and I really need to read some more in this mystery series!

Review: One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

One-fell-sweep-by-ilona-andrewsOne Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Innkeeper Chronicles #3

E-book, purchased

Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Romance

Gertrude Hunt, the nicest Bed and Breakfast in Red Deer, Texas, is glad to have you. We cater to particular kind of guests, the ones most people don’t know about. The older lady sipping her Mello Yello is called Caldenia, although she prefers Your Grace. She has a sizable bounty on her head, so if you hear kinetic or laser fire, try not to stand close to the target. Our chef is a Quillonian. The claws are a little unsettling, but he is a consummate professional and truly is the best chef in the Galaxy. If you see a dark shadow in the orchard late at night, don’t worry. Someone is patrolling the grounds. Do beware of our dog.

Your safety and comfort is our first priority. The inn and your host, Dina Demille, will defend you at all costs. We ask only that you mind other guests and conduct yourself in a polite manner.


Serial beginnings. One of the unique things about these books is that they’ve been available on the author’s website as a serial book as the author writes it. Once the book is finished it’s no longer available to read for free. The book gets edited, additional material might get added and it is then published. I always wait for the published version, because I don’t like to wait for new chapters! I want to read it all at once.

My thoughts. I’ve read the first two books in this series and love them all. This is a fun series and I like the characters a lot. The concept and world building are well-done. I like the idea of inns on Earth for aliens to come and vacation. There’s also more romance in this book than in the others and it didn’t detract from the fantasy which is a problem for me if the romance overpowers the story.

Some of the characters (mostly returning characters):

Dina with her broom is so much more than she seems at first glance. Throughout the three books we find out a little more about her and her family. I like that it unfolds slowly. I love the broom as part of Dina’s power. The broom doesn’t mean she’s a witch, it means she’s an innkeeper!

Beast, Dina’s Shih Tzu, is a fun character. He can definitely be more than he seems. At first, he doesn’t seem like much of a guard dog, however….

Arland, the Lord Marshal of a vampire clan, shows up again. He’s such a fun character to read about. Very powerful, ethical and proud.

Sean, Dina’s werewolf neighbor is also back. He’s been through hell, but managed to come back and though he’s haunted by experiences he’s also stronger because of them.

Caldenia, the inn’s permanent guest, has a huge bounty on her head and is a very dangerous character, but also very interesting. I’d like to find out more about her in future books.

Orro, the inn’s chef, is a Quillonian. “…Quillonians resembled terrifying monsters who stood upright, had hands armed with savage claws, muzzles filled with fangs, and backs covered with foot-long black quills….” However, he is a wonderful chef! He’s a Red Cleaver chef–one of the best of the best–but Dina can afford to employ him since he was disgraced because of a poisoning accident.

In this book we meet Dina’s sister, Maud, and that opens a whole lot more information about Dina’s family. We find out what she has done while Dina was opening an inn.

The book is action-filled and exciting right to the end. The heroes are often in peril and must learn to trust each other more than ever to survive. I like that each book is a complete story, but has tantalizing bits for future stories.  I like that Ilona Andrews writes these books because they are fun to write.

Rating: B+


Have you read any of the books in this series? How do you like them? Have you read other series by Ilona Andrews?

The Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames

the-last-death-of-jack-harbin-by-terry-shamesThe Last Death of Jack Harbin by Terry Shames
Series: Samuel Craddock Mystery #2
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Jarrett Creek, Texas
Published by Seventh Street Books, 2014
Library book
253 pages
Grade: B+
Synopsis: Right before the outbreak of the Gulf War, two eighteen-year-old football stars and best friends from Jarrett Creek, Texas, signed up for the army. But Woody Patterson was rejected and stayed home to marry the girl they both loved, while Jack Harbin came back from the war badly damaged. The men haven’t spoken since.

Just as they are about to reconcile, Jack is brutally murdered. With the chief of police out of commission, it’s up to trusted ex-chief Samuel Craddock to investigate. Against the backdrop of small-town loyalties and betrayals, Craddock discovers dark secrets of the past and present to solve the mystery of Jack’s death.

Town Café has all the charm of a cow barn. A big tin Quonset hut, it’s pockmarked on the outside, as if it was used for target practice in some past life. Bill Schroeder trucked it in about ten years ago and plopped it onto a lot near the railroad tracks. The place has knotty pine walls decorated with random signs advertising beer and farm equipment. Christmas lights are strung all over the place, year round. But the food is good.

Initial impressions

  • The characters, mystery and setting are so well done. I totally recommend this series!

The Story

  • Jack Harbin is an Army veteran who was in the Gulf War. He lost a leg and his sight. He was a star quarterback in high school in Jarrett Creek and still goes to all the games. He will talk football any day of the week and usually holds court at the Town Café. He’s sometimes hard to get along with, but football is always a favorite topic in Jarrett Creek, Texas.
  • When first Jack’s father dies and then Jack dies Samuel Craddock has to step in and figure out what’s going on.


  • I really like this series. Samuel Craddock the protagonist of these books is someone I’d like to know.
  • This is written in first person, present tense–not something I usually like that well, but it works for this series.
  • This is practically a police procedural!
  • I like the way Ms. Shames portrays the small town life in rural Texas. I’ve lived in small rural towns in the west and this portrayal seems true-to-life. . . lots of gossip, everyone knowing at least a few things about their neighbors, people willing to pitch in and help when someone needs it, people making snap judgements about others and just like anywhere many shades of gray.
  • There’s a lot going on under the surface in this book. Some of the story goes back to Jack Harbin’s high school days, to his military days. And then what these things mean to the present day.


  • I had a pretty good idea about the mystery, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying the book.

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m happy there are five books in this series so far. I want to read the next book soon!


  • A Library Journal Best Book of 2014

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Terry Shames grew up in Texas, and has an abiding affection for the people she grew up with and the landscape and culture of the town that is the model for Jarrett Creek.
  • She graduated from the University of Texas and has an MA from San Francisco State University.
  • Terry now lives in Northern California with her husband, two terriers and a regal cat.

Reading Challenges









Waiting on Wednesday: September 21

I am participating in Waiting on Wednesday hosted by Breaking the Spine. This gives me a chance to show the books I’m looking forward to in the next few months.

Check out Breaking the Spine for more information.


an-unsettling-crime-for-samuel-craddockAn Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock

by Terry Shames

Series: Samuel Craddock Mystery #6

Genre: Mystery

Publication date: January 3

Synopsis: When the Jarrett Creek Fire Department is called to douse a blaze on the outskirts of town, they discover a grisly scene: five black young people have been murdered. Newly elected Chief of Police Samuel Craddock, just back from a stint in the Air Force, finds himself an outsider in the investigation headed by the Texas Highway Patrol. He takes an immediate dislike to John Sutherland, a racist trooper
Craddock s fears are realized when Sutherland arrests Truly Bennett, a young black man whom Craddock knows and respects. Sutherland cites dubious evidence that points to Bennett, and Craddock uncovers facts leading in another direction. When Sutherland refuses to relent, Craddock is faced with a choice that will define him as a lawman either let the highway patrol have its way, or take on a separate investigation himself.

Although his choice to investigate puts both Craddock and his family in danger, he perseveres. In the process, he learns something about himself and the limits of law enforcement in Jarrett Creek.


The reasons this book appeals to me:
  • I’ve read a couple books in this series and it has become one of my favorites.
  • Samuel Craddock is a character to cheer for and the Texas setting is very well done by the author.
  • I’m happy Terry Shames is coming out with another Samuel Craddock mystery!

A Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames

a-killing-at-cotton-hill-by-terry-shamesA Killing at Cotton Hill by Terry Shames
Series: Samuel Craddock Mystery #1
Genre: Mystery
Setting: Jarrett Creek, Texas
Published by Seventh Street Books, 2013
E-book, purchased
231 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: The chief of police of Jarrett Creek, Texas, doubles as the town drunk. So when Dora Lee Parjeter is murdered, her old friend and former police chief Samuel Craddock steps in. He discovers that a lot of people had it in for Dora Lee. The conniving rascals on the farm next door want her land for nefarious purposes; her estranged daughter could be seeking vengeance; her grandson wants money for art school; and then there’s that stranger Dora Lee claimed was spying on her. Does Craddock still have what it takes to find the killer? In this debut novel, the strong, compelling voice of Samuel Craddock illuminates the grandeur and loneliness of the central Texas landscape and reveals the human foibles of the residents in a small Texas town-their pettiness and generosity, their secret vices and true virtues.

The two highway patrolmen are wearing their hats and sunglasses like they think a TV crew is going to come barreling up any second and they want to be sure they look the part.


One problem with being a widower is that old women have us outnumbered. Right after Jeanne died I was scandalized and soon terrified at how quickly women started sniffing around. I’m no Gregory Peck.

Initial impressions

  • This is the type of mystery I really enjoy reading. Interesting characters, a strong protagonist with a moral compass and a good mystery. It’s one of my favorite books of the year!

The story

  • Samuel Craddock is the former Chief of Police of the small town of Jarrett Creek, Texas. His wife died of cancer a year ago. He misses her a lot and doesn’t have too much to do other than spend a lot of time with his small herd of cattle.
  • When a lifelong friend–Dora Lee–is murdered he feels the need to find out what he can about what happened.
  • The current police chief–Rodell Skinner–is no friend of Samuel’s. He was appointed to the position by a relative and is a drunkard who takes the easy way out.
  • Rodell is convinced Dora Lee’s grandson Greg killed her, but Samuel isn’t so sure. There are plenty of other suspects around.
  • Samuel convinces the best lawyer in town to take Greg’s case and she convinces Samuel he needs to investigate the case.


  • Written in present tense, first person POV. Made the voice of Samuel Craddock really come through. I love the wry thoughts Samuel has about the world around him.
  • I like the cover. To me it has a rural vibe about it.
  • The small town Texas setting and lonely Texas countryside is really well done.
  • Samuel’s wife Jeanne got Samuel interested in modern art and they collected it during their marriage. They bought from unknown artists, but some of them have since become famous and their art collection is insured very well.
  • The art collection means a great deal to Samuel since it’s something Samuel and Jeanne shared and loved.
  • The plot gets more confusing when a fire starts at Samuel’s home. The house and Samuel’s art collection are saved, but the fire is arson and a painting was stolen.
  • Samuel is amazed when he sees the art Dora Lee’s grandson Greg is painting. He hasn’t had much training, but Samuel thinks he’s very talented. Of course, this makes one more reason Greg might be guilty–he wanted money so he could go away to art school.
  • Samuel is an honest man. I really like that and an author who writes a character like that.
  • A good mystery. Plenty of characters had motive and opportunity. I didn’t figure out for sure who had done it until the end.
  • Even though some characters are sympathetic that doesn’t keep them from being brought to justice.


  • None I can think of!

And concluding thoughts . . .

  • I’m ready to read the next book in the series! I’m glad several books are already written.
  • So happy to find another new series and author to enjoy.


  • Macavity Award for Best First Mystery, 2013

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Terry Shames grew up in Texas, and has an abiding affection for the people she grew up with and the landscape and culture of the town that is the model for Jarrett Creek.
  • She graduated from the University of Texas and has an MA from San Francisco State University.
  • Terry now lives in Northern California with her husband, two terriers and a regal cat.

Reading Challenges

Review: Clean Sweep by Ilona Andrews

Clean Sweep
Clean Sweep


Clean Sweep
by Ilona Andrews
Series: Innkeeper Chronicles, Book 1
Genre: urban fantasy
Published by Ilona Andrews, 2013
E-book, Purchased
200 pages
Grade: A-
Synopsis: On the outside, Dina Demille is the epitome of normal. She runs a quaint Victorian Bed and Breakfast in a small Texas town, owns a Shih Tzu named Beast, and is a perfect neighbor, whose biggest problem should be what to serve her guests for breakfast. But Dina is…different: Her broom is a deadly weapon; her Inn is magic and thinks for itself. Meant to be a lodging for otherworldly visitors, the only permanent guest is a retired Galactic aristocrat who can’t leave the grounds because she’s responsible for the deaths of millions and someone might shoot her on sight. Under the circumstances, “normal” is a bit of a stretch for Dina.

And now, something with wicked claws and deepwater teeth has begun to hunt at night….Feeling responsible for her neighbors, Dina decides to get involved. Before long, she has to juggle dealing with the annoyingly attractive, ex-military, new neighbor, Sean Evans—an alpha-strain werewolf—and the equally arresting cosmic vampire soldier, Arland, while trying to keep her inn and its guests safe. But the enemy she’s facing is unlike anything she’s ever encountered before. It’s smart, vicious, and lethal, and putting herself between this creature and her neighbors might just cost her everything.

In my experience, the ex-military guys came in two types. The first grew long hair, sprouted beards, and indulged in all the things they hadn’t been able do while they’d been in the armed forces. The second did their best to pretend they never got out.


The woman stared at the ruined body. Blood dripped from her arm. A fine spray of red covered her face –must’ve been cast off when she slammed down the cans. She wiped her face with her left forearm and kicked the stalker’s corpse with her sneakered foot. “Don’t mess with Texas.”

 What works for me

  • I love it! Just fun to read.
  • Ilona Andrews…a favorite author. This husband-wife team write such fun characters and interesting urban fantasy. As I read this I thought “they really enjoyed writing this. This was for fun.”
  • Not a book to take too seriously.
  • There’s a little romance. I like the chemistry between Dina and Sean and Dina and Arland. This isn’t really a love triangle (which I don’t like). Very low key…two guys interested…and she’s a little interested in them. Ilona Andrews does a good job making these characters interesting and likeable with an edge of danger.
  • The author is writing a sequel–Yay 🙂
  • Dina is a fun character. We haven’t found out everything about her which is great. I’m looking forward to more books and finding out more about Dina and the world she lives in.
  • The Innkeeper concept is interesting. It works and makes an interesting background for the story.

What doesn’t work

  • Nothing to report!

My thoughts

The authors released this book as a serial on their blog for free each week. I didn’t read it at that time. The book was for sale on Amazon when I found it. Ilona Andrews is again releasing the second book–Sweep in Peace–in the Innkeeper series as a weekly serial.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Reading Challenges

2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge
2014 Book Bingo Reading Challenge

I’m participating in the Book Bingo Challenge (using a series square for this book).