Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Red Acres by Ethel Miller Gorman

Coming from a town very close to Birmingham, I was very intrigued by this book!  It is a novel and most of the characters are not actual people, but Arlington Plantation is real, as are the events that shaped the growth of the area of Birmingham based on iron smelting.   Here is my Goodreads review:

photo from the internet

The first chapter of this novel made me suspicious that I was going to be reading something heavily influenced by Gone With the Wind....but, in spite of some minor influences, this book stood on its own as a testament to the strength and innovative faith of the people of North Alabama during "Reconstruction."  It is about the founding of Birmingham, which became Alabama's "Magic City, " and gave my state (for I am from Jasper, 45 miles away...the Jasper Road is often mentioned in the book) new life based on more than agriculture, but the explosion of growth and prosperity based on some of the richest iron ore in the country!  I grew up knowing about Irondale, Bessemer, coal mining, Sloss Furnace.  I saw the famous Vulcan statue high on the side of Red Mountain as I drove back from other states and knew I was almost home.  I attended a family wedding at Arlington Plantation, the real Red Acres.  This novel has much to offer:  a star-crossed story of two people hopelessly in love, intrigue and back-room deals, loss of family members and homes, despair at ever achieving "Home Rule" again after ten years of painful reconstruction....but it also offers the story of the birth pangs of an industry that grew strong and bright and gave Alabama hope.  It isn't a gem of literary mastery, but a really good book.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Marie and I had great hopes when we established this book club. We could see wonderful reviews being posted frequently. We could see friends that we would make, people who read interesting books and are willing to share their find. 

However, this site has been struggling for a long time now. Those who signed up to do reviews often don't. (and I include myself). When a review is posted there seems to be only one or two comments. 

I think that we should give this site one month to gain some momentum... if it hasn't by January 1, 2017, it will be closed down. I am sorry as I can be. As I said in the beginning, we had such hopes.....

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Killer In The Band-Lauren Carr-Book Review


Doing things a little backwards this time.   

Here's what I thought before 
I tell you about the book! I hope you don't mind!

I can't put into words how much I loved this book!  When I was given the opportunity to read I said 'Yes' as fast as I could to make the blog tour.  

And I wasn't disappointed.  Killer had me from page one and would not let me go! 

This story is the 3rd book in the Lovers In Crime Series.

 There are lots of characters and  multiple story lines in each of the books  I've read by La;uren at least that is what she did in the Mac Faraday series which BTW is great too.  

Killer was no different. There was Joshua and Cameron Thornton and all their children.  The story was mainly about the oldest son J.J. who had just returned home from college.  He had intended a leisurely summer studying for his Bar exam.  

The summer ended up being much more than everyone bargained for. 

J.J. happened (at least so it seemed) to run into Sue Ellen Russell a woman yes I said woman who had mentored him in high school. 
They fell in love back in the day but each went their separate ways.  

When J.J. returns their affair is rekindled.  J.J. ends up moving into the family horse and orchard farm that Sue Ellen has inherited from her parents.  Together they begin the daily operations of the horse farm. 

Trouble simmers in the background when (dad) Joshua . . . let's just say he isn't happy with the couple.  But Cameron (the step mom) convinces him to visit J.J. and Sue Ellen.  Taking along the younger children Izzy (an adopted child) and Donny (Joshua's 16 year old who can't stay out of the kitchen he eats everything in sight).
The friendly visit which includes pie puts everyone at ease while Izzy makes friends with dogs, cats and a rooster that no one likes. 

                           I was in love let me tell you! 

Sue Ellen drops a bomb on Cameron who is a Homicide Detective
and asks her to investigate the murder of an ex band member. 
Which everyone is surprised when Dylan Matthews is found some 30 years after being murdered. 

Back at the ranch Sue Ellen is overwhelmed with the daily operations and begins looking for someone to manage the horse operation.  In comes 'horse whisperer' Poppy Ashburn a mysterious woman who has every horse following her like a puppy dog within a few minutes.  
Izzy who is getting out of bed early and begging to go to the barn is following Poppy around and begging for a horse of her own.  
If your a regular reader of my blog you know why this story line got me.  I loved the ranch setting. 

As usual Lauren does have multiple story lines going on.  There 
are a few dead bodies included in the mix.  

It's a fantastic read.  

I do have one caution I have to add for my readers that might think about allowing a younger adult or teen read this book.  
There is a part in the middle of the story. A witness involved in the cold crime has an alternative lifestyle that possibly might offend some people.  I only include this as a caution.  I would read the book and discuss this before allowing a teen to read.  

Killer In The Band is probably my favorite of all the books I've read by Lauren Carr.  I look forward to reading more!  

This book deserves my 5 star rating!
This review will be posted at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Good Reads.
This review will appear on My Journey Back and will be linked at my favorite blog parties.

Here's what the book is about (provided by IRead Book Tours)
Book Details:

Book TitleKiller in the Band by Lauren Carr
Category:  Adult fiction,  430 pages
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  Acorn Book Services
Release date:  Oct 3, 2016
Available for review in:  Print and ebook: mobi (for Kindle), ePub, PDF 
Will send books:  USA & Canada
Tour dates:  Oct 10 to 28 and Oct 31 to Dec 2, 2016
Content Rating:  PG (Lauren Carr's books are murder mysteries, so there are murders involved. Occasionally, a murder will happen on stage. There is sexual content, but always behind closed doors. Some mild swearing (a hell or a damn few and far between). No F-bombs!

Book Description:

Summer of Love & Murder

Joshua’s eldest son, Joshua “J.J.” Thornton Jr., has graduated at the top of his class from law school and returns home to spend the summer studying for the bar exam. However, to Joshua’s and Cameron’s shock and dismay, J.J. moves into the main house at Russell Ridge Farm, the largest dairy farm in the Ohio Valley, to rekindle a romance with Suellen Russell, a onetime leader of a rock group who’s twice his age. Quickly, they learn that she has been keeping a deep dark secret.

The move brings long-buried tensions between the father and son to the surface. But when a brutal killer strikes, the Lovers in Crime must set all differences aside to solve the crime before J.J. ends up in the cross hairs of a murderer.

Praise for Lauren Carr’s Mysteries:

“Lauren Carr could give Agatha Christie a run for her money!”
​- Charlene Mabie-Gamble, Literary R&R

“As always, Lauren Carr brings an action-packed story that is almost impossible to put down. Her mystery plots have so many twists and turns that I didn’t know if I was coming or going. And the action just didn’t stop from the very beginning till the very end.” - Melina Mason, Melina’s Book Reviews

Buy the Book: Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble 

I had the privilege of interviewing the author!  Click here 
to see the interview. 

Check out this fabulous Giveaway.... Click here to enter.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Long Time Coming

'Long Time Coming' is the name of a book by Edie Claire. But, it can also be what you will remark when you see a book review from me. Sorry it's been so long but I am not finding really good reads much anymore.

I thoroughly enjoyed this 'ghostly romantic fiction'. I had never heard that term before so I didn't know what to expect when I ordered the book from I hope I can find some more in that genre.

Joy and Jenny are best friend while they are growing up.  When Jenny dies in a terrible car accident, Joy is devastated. Jeff, Jenny's boyfriend, was at the wheel and Joy hated him immediately and never let up. She even moved to get away from him and her grief. 

Years pass. Joy is a veterinarian and has moved back home to help take care of her ailing father. Even though Joy has no idea why she did it, she rented the house that her best friend, Jenny, had lived in and where those two girls had spent many happy hours. Joy is still bitter but she's determined to make her stay in her hometown enjoyable and profitable. So, she starts a 'house-call' animal practice. And, then runs over a dog one night. The dog belongs to Jeff.

Well, there's a lot of friction between the two. And, there are things going on in Jenny's old house that makes Joy think she's rented a house that's haunted. Joy has a lot of things to figure out, and she ends up surprised at the answers. That helps her know what she has to do now. And, it involves Jeff. Was he the cause of her friends death? Or was it a horrible accident? Will she forgive him? Or not and live with her hatred. 


 That's all I am going to tell you. You'll have to read it for yourself.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Me, Before You by JoJo Moyes

Well, when your Mom recommends a book she read that was recommended to her by your sister...and then your good friend in Colorado also recommends it, you listen!   Here is what I said on Goodreads....

This is a remarkable book that went "where no book has gone before" in developing a relationship between a quadriplegic and his caregiver. Beyond that it gives voice to what makes life meaningful and valuable. A modern tale, a young woman with little going for her accepts a six month position caring for a thirty-five year old man who was disabled in an accident after "living large." The accident has left him despondent and his mother hopes this cheerful quirky young woman can give him a sense of happiness and hope about life again. He has already tried to commit suicide, and Louisa discovers this and begins to feel like she's been asked to be on "suicide watch" and resents it. He has a medical assistant who cannot be there all the time, and Lou isn't asked at first to assist with things she is uncomfortable with, but she struggles with her purpose there...and later with her rising feelings for the man in her care. It is delightful at times, even funny, as the two of them banter and become comfortable with one another. But it is also sad. More than that, it embraces what it means to have choices about one's life, and to live that life to its most full. Two people recommended this book to me, and I was very happy they had! An awesome read!

Friday, October 14, 2016


"Our son will be your son now." 

The diminutive sentence above is the heart and soul of the haunting book LaRose by Louise Erdrich. It is an affecting story of loss, love and the lore of a whole culture of people in North Dakota.

I learned about Native American life in the book. The good and the bad. The old and the new. There were so many well drawn characters. Like the wise beyond his years LaRose. The 5 year old boy at the center of the story. But there are many namesake LaRose's hanging from the family tree like beautiful wind songs. We meet all of them in the book. The mystical backstory of the first LaRose, was my favorite part. 

The conflict occurs when Landreaux, LaRose's father, accidentally kills his neighbor's child while deer hunting. The lives of all of the central characters are subsequently torn apart.  Landreaux resorts to the old ways for guidance. He visits a sweat lodge and is compelled to give away his son, to make amends for the one he killed. 

I wish I would have purchased this book at our local Minneapolis book store, Birchbark Books, owned by the author. Because then I could have acquired a signed copy. It was so good.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Big Rock Candy Mountain by Wallace Stegner

There's a song of course...and the inference of moonshine running in the backwoods.  I thought perhaps this would be an account of such things in the Appalachians.  But, instead Stegner stayed with the west.  The first book I had read by him was Angle of Repose.  See that review HERE.  I was disappointed in the way that one had ended, but had otherwise loved the book.  I was ready for more, and was NOT disappointed.  Wallace Stegner is a master!  This time, instead of mainly California for a setting, the family he is writing about move from Minnesota into Canada and then to Utah, Nevada, and back to Utah.  The book chronicled the life of a single family and covers a lot of years, mainly over the Depression era.  It is a beautifully crafted book.  Below is my Goodreads review....

Wallace Stegner is an award-winning writer, and there is in his writing that special quality of knowing human beings, of telling their stories and digging deep into their inner beings in the process. He also has an amazing gift for detail and a wonderful way with words. This was a long book, but I have to say, I enjoyed every minute of The Big Rock Candy Mountain because each character became someone I knew intimately, and often grew to love deeply. The book is an American tragedy....but more than that, it is the tragedy of family relationships. No one can tell such a story better than Stegner. As Elsa and Bo fall in love and set their paths together despite problems that are evident from the beginning, their road in quest of that big rock candy mountain of song is filled with struggle and disappointment. Elsa asks for little, and Bo desires much...trying to fill a hole left in his heart from his childhood. And no one understands him better or loves him more than Elsa, even while their lives are all being torn apart, and filled with pain. What a meaningful tribute to human frailty! Great book!