Monday, April 25, 2016

Sidetracked: Two Women, Two Cameras, and Lunches on Sherman's Trail - Book Review

Idgie Says:
This is a sweet book telling the tale of two friends who decide to road trip it through Sherman's destructive march on the South.  They start off in the suburbs of Atlanta and go from there. 

Their book is along the lines of  a Bill Bryson travelogue - little anecdotes on life mixed in with tidbits of history trivia.  But there's no "Sass".  These are wholesome ladies telling stories filled with gentle humor and good will.  

A fun book for someone who wants to learn a bit more about history and the South without it being in textbook form. I enjoyed learning more about a town I currently live in, some historical knowledge I didn't have. 

The book is chock full of pictures too!

By author: Milam McGraw Propst, Jaclyn Weldon White
Mercer University Press
ISBN: 9780881465754
Product Format: Paperback / softback

SIDETRACKED is a series of stories which chronicle the zigzag adventures of two authors searching for a better understanding of their state. Milam Propst and Jaclyn White are good friends who enjoy the creative process, love to chat, dine, and explore out-of-the-way places. Their initial plan was to trace Sherman's March to the Sea and visit some of Georgia's 3,000 plus historic markers along the way. While the journey would not necessarily spotlight the Civil War, Sherman's path would provide them with a specific route. There was one slight disadvantage to the plan. Neither of the writers have any sense of direction. Because of this, they got sidetracked often, made countless U-turns, and frequently found fascinating stories by accident. SIDETRACKED is a great read for would-be history buffs who will appreciate the research that went into it. But the stories are also crafted to entertain readers who will relish the surprises found in the unexpected turns along the road and the ongoing dialogue between Propst and White. It's informative, it's funny, it's sad; it's a story of newly revealed truths and longstanding friendship.

The Final Days of Great American Shopping - Book Review

Idgie Says:
This is an intertwined set of stories based around shopping.  But some are quite loosely based.  The first story is centered more on a relationship and how one sometimes tiptoes though it, not quite sure how to proceed.  The only shopping in it is the good deal on storm windows that preceded the marital spat.  

The last story is really abstract in manner - where an apocalypse has caused people to not be able to live outside and they now live in malls, and get buried in luxury cars. The stories in between range between these two bookends - all placed in the same neighborhood.  

An interesting read and it's fun to see the same characters circling each other, but in completely different types of tales. 


The Final Days of Great American Shopping
Stories Past, Present and Future
Gilbert Allen
University of South Carolina Press
April, 2016

A quirky assortment of materialistic suburbanites trying to supersize and spend their way to happiness.

An affectionate satire of the culture of self-indulgence, The Final Days of Great American Shopping exposes the American obsessions with money, mass marketing, and material objects. In Belladonna, a gated subdivision in upstate South Carolina, readers meet a colorful cast of characters doing their best to buy happiness in a series of sixteen closely linked stories from the past, present, and future. Whether speed dating, test driving cars, upsizing to dream houses, flying helicopters, or lusting after designer shoes, these small-town spenders have good intentions that often go hilariously awry as they search for emotional and spiritual comfort.

Gilbert Allen is a master at character development, and the individuals in this collection are no exception. Among them are the childless, emotionally distant couple Butler and Marjory Breedlove; the harried appliance salesman John Beegle and his precocious, pole-dancing daughter Alison; and the one-handed soccer wunderkind Amy Knobloch. Also featured are Ted Dickey, the mastermind of the Mental Defectives self-help book series and the undefeated Speed Dating Champion of the World; Jimmy Scheetz, the pragmatic philanthropist behind Ecumenical Bedding; Ruthella Anderson, a retired first-grade teacher addicted to Star Trek and to extreme couponing; and the mysterious Gabriella, an aging Italian beauty who presides over Doumi Shoes.

Arranged chronologically, the stories span nearly a century. While most are set in the recent past or in the immediate future, the book's title story is set in 2084. It depicts a dystopian shopping mall worthy of George Orwell, John Cheever, or Flannery O'Connor and raises the question, "Can America survive international terrorism, ecological apocalypse, and demographic disaster to morph triumphantly into the USAARP?"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Hide Away - Shout Out and Excerpt

Hide Away

Hide Away

An Eve Duncan Novel

Click HERE for Excerpt

St. Martin's Press
April 26, 2016

World-famous forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has landed in a well-guarded hospital room in Carmel, California. But hidden danger looms for Eve, her beloved Joe Quinn, and Cara Delaney, the young girl they’ve both sworn to protect. With Cara’s enemies on the move, Eve has no choice but to flee the hospital—no matter what the doctors say. Her protective instincts in full gear, she decides that their best chance of survival is to get out of the country. She turns to her daughter, Jane MacGuire, for help.

For years, Jane has been avoiding pressure to find a treasure thought to be buried in Scotland—but she’s finally succumbed to John MacDuff’s pleas to track it down. Eve and Cara join Jane in the remote mountains, but soon realize that nowhere is far enough away from the ruthless predators who are on their trail. . .

A Lowcountry Wedding - A Shout Out, Contest and Excerpt Links

A Lowcountry WeddingA Lowcountry Wedding

Lowcountry Summer, Book 4


Wedding season has arrived in New York Times bestselling author Mary Alice Monroe’s next novel in the “distinct, complex, and endearing” (Charleston Magazine) Lowcountry Summer series, set against the romantic, charming Charleston Lowcountry.

Nothing could be more enchanting than a summer wedding—or two!—in Charleston’s fabled lowcountry. A centuries-old plantation, an avenue of ancient oaks dripping moss, a storied ballroom, a sand dune at sunset…

Yet when a stranger arrives, a long held family secret could silence the bells ringing for the Muir sisters. Scandals surface, family bonds are questioned, and promises are broken and renewed. In A Lowcountry Wedding, Monroe delves into the heart of marriage, commitment, and family ties. Huffington Post calls the Lowcountry Summer series “the perfect beach read and a whole lot more.”

Gallery Books
(May 3, 2016)
448 pages

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The End of the Mountains - Book Review

Idgie Says:
Casey's latest novel is listed as a non-fiction book, but it is more along the lines of a very well written novel based on family stories passed down over the generations regarding his ancestor, Columbus Clabough. While many of the events in the book are based on fact, he realizes some may be tall tales, but worth telling nonetheless.

This is a slim novel that I tore through in 2 days, which with my schedule actually isn't that easy, but the story grabbed hold and wouldn't let go. Casey knows how to set time and place amazingly well and provide visuals that place you right into the middle of the story. You can hear the dialogue and smell the air. 

This is not a happy story.  There are tiny glimpses of happy but they are few and far between.  Columbus doesn't lead an easy life, nor does anyone on this mountain land. Their lives are hard and often violent. Nature and religion are the only balms for the soul. 

Columbus' story involves witchery, moonshine, hostage situations, timber wars and the real war that lands him overseas hunting Germans. The other characters involved are his fiance who becomes bitter over time and a preacher whose life intersects with theirs, in more ways than one.

Columbus leads a somewhat charmed life in that his particular set of skills tends to lead him toward personal safety for most of his "adventures", but those same skills cannot help him as he watches the loss of friends, loss of home life and what affects him the most - the loss of his way of life and the land that he loved. 

A very well written story that I recommend. 


Little Curlew Press
January, 2016

Click HERE for an excerpt


Southern writer Casey Clabough revisits the hardscrabble life of ancestor Columbus Clabough: the last of his family to live by the old Smoky Mountain ways — ways unsuited to a modern world. In the wake of run-ins with bootleggers and Overhill Cherokee, Columbus departs to serve his country in World War I, only to return and find the mountains and himself afflicted by ravages not unlike those witnessed overseas. Bringing us into a vanished world of red wolves, chestnuts, and human way of life long forgotten, Clabough offers a powerful narrative that captures the life of his great uncle — a life so strongly linked to the land that it reflects the changes and sufferings of the mountains.

A portion of proceeds from the sale of this book will go towards The American Chestnut Foundation.