How ex-House Speaker Lee Chatfield provided foothold in state government for lobbyists

Sparks debuts 20th book; ‘Strong’ novel is entertaining

Associated Press

“Two By Two”

by Nicholas Sparks

(Grand Central Publishing)

This book cover of “Two By Two” by Nicholas Sparks was released by Grand Central Publishing.

In 1996, Nicholas Sparks introduced the world to Allie and Noah in his best-selling novel “The Notebook.” Their story became an overnight sensation. Two decades later, Sparks continues to prove he’s an expert in exploring real world challenges in a believable romantic genre. His twentieth work, “Two By Two,” extends his impressive collection of literary tales.

Russell Green is living a dream life. His young daughter, London, is adorable; his career is taking him places; and his wife, Vivian, is the total package. From the outside looking in, the Greens appear to be the perfect family, but that’s not necessarily the case behind closed doors. He can’t help noticing that his wife is distancing herself, but nothing can prepare him for the day when Vivian decides to leave the family and move to another state to start a high-end job.

In a matter of days, he must learn how to navigate the world as a single father raising a 6-year-old. He tackles washing dance outfits, driving to art classes, making nutritious meals and assuaging the anxiety of his little girl. Not only does he take care of every detail of his daughter’s life, he also works hard to build a solid foundation for his new advertising firm.

Through every new experience, he depends on his parents, sister and friendly art-class moms to help steer him in the right direction. As the weeks pass, he accepts his new reality and even begins to own his role as London’s chauffeur, chef, nurse, playmate and bedtime storyteller. Most of all, his love for his daughter grows beyond his understanding as he comes to realize that she is his world as much as he is hers.

“Two By Two” is a tumultuous story wrapped in a world of broken relationships. Sparks invites readers to take a journey that stares risks and rewards directly in the face. Whether it’s tenderness between a husband and wife or affection between a father and his daughter, Sparks has definitely mastered the art of love.

— Lincee Ray

“Strong Cold Dead”

by Jon Land


This book cover image of “Strong Cold Dead” by Jon Land was released by Forge Books.

Caitlin Strong, a trigger-happy, often insubordinate, fifth-generation Texas Ranger, is back in another rollicking Jon Land adventure that reads like a cross between a Randolph Scott Western, a Steven King horror story and a Jason Bourne movie script.

As always in this action series, the modern-day plot has a direct link to a case investigated by one of Caitlin’s ancestors. This time, it flashes back to 1874, when “Steeldust” Jack, the first Strong to wear the Rangers’ distinctive five-point star, faced down John D. Rockefeller as he tried to strong-arm his way onto oil-rich Comanche tribal land.

Now, a new generation of oilmen has arrived in Texas, lusting to seize the oil hidden beneath the dust of the same Indian reservation.

Returning from the first four novels in the series are Cort Wesley Masters, Caitlin’s menacing ex-felon boyfriend; his two young sons, Luke and Dylan; Gillermo Paz, a former South American death squad commander; and her often exasperated commander, D.W. Tepper.

“Strong Cold Dead” ranges from Houston to the frozen reaches of Canada and involves peyote, ancient Indian legends, a new way of committing mass murder, a Canadian Mountie, ISIS, a shoot-out at a carnival and an apocalyptic conspiracy to kill everyone in Texas.

The plot of any Jon Land novel can seem far-fetched at first, but as always, he pulls the disparate strings of the fast-moving, action-packed yarn together in a way that is both surprising and entertaining.

— Bruce DeSilva


Week ending Oct. 2.

Hardcover Fiction

1. “Woman of God” by James Patterson (Little, Brown)

2. “Home” by Harlan Coben (Dutton)

3. “Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett (Harper)

4. “Pirate” by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)

5. “The Book of Mysteries” by Jonathan Cahn (Frontline)

6. “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)

7. “The Woman in Cabin 10” by Ruth Ware (Gallery/Scout Press)

8. “Razor Girl” by Carl Hiaasen (Knopf)

9. “Apprentice in Death” by J.D. Robb (Berkley)

10. “Rushing Waters” by Danielle Steel (Delacorte)

Hardcover Nonfiction

1. “Born to Run” by Bruce Springsteen (Simon & Schuster)

2. “Killing the Rising Sun” by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard (Henry Holt and Co.)

3. “EveryDayCook” by Alton Brown (Ballantine)

4. “The Universe Has Your Back” by Gabrielle Bernstein (Hay House)

5. “Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations” by Danielle Walker (Ten Speed Press)

6. “Hillbilly Elegy” by J.D. Vance (Harper)

7. “The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer (Gallery Books)

8. “Love Warrior” (Oprah’s Book Club) by Glennon Doyle Martin (Flatiron)

9. “When Nobody Was Watching” by Carli Lloyd (HMH)

10. “Scorched Earth” by Michael Savage (Center Street)