#FuturisticFriday Review: The Night The Lights Went Out by Karen White

Photo Credit: Berkley

This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

The Night The Lights Went Out

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of the Tradd Street series comes a stunning new novel about a young single mother who discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems….

Recently divorced, Merilee Talbot Dunlap moves with her two children to the Atlanta suburb of Sweet Apple, Georgia. It’s not her first time starting over, but her efforts at a new beginning aren’t helped by an anonymous local blog that dishes about the scandalous events that caused her marriage to fail.

Merilee finds some measure of peace in the cottage she is renting from town matriarch Sugar Prescott. Though stubborn and irascible, Sugar sees something of herself in Merilee—something that allows her to open up about her own colorful past.

Sugar’s stories give Merilee a different perspective on the town and its wealthy school moms in their tennis whites and shiny SUVs, and even on her new friendship with Heather Blackford. Merilee is charmed by the glamorous young mother’s seemingly perfect life and finds herself drawn into Heather’s world.

In a town like Sweet Apple, where sins and secrets are as likely to be found behind the walls of gated mansions as in the dark woods surrounding Merilee’s house, appearance is everything. But just how dangerous that deception can be will shock all three women…. Continue reading

Small Blessings by Martha Woodroof

Small Blessings

Photo Credit: Goodreads

This book was sent to Traveling With T for review consideration.

Small Blessings

Tom Putnam is not living- not really. His life is not bad, exactly, but he is existing. Just existing. Married to a woman who named Marjory- who has some peculiar quirks, Tom stays in this marriage because while Marjory had many quirks before, after finding out about Tom’s affair- her quirks have increased. Continue reading

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

funeral dress

Photo Credit: Goodreads

Sometimes family is found in the most unexpected places…..

When Emmalee meets Leona at the shirt factory, neither knows how much their life will change. Leona is gruff with Emmalee at first, but soon takes her under her wing- showing her tips and tricks to sewing the collars and other things. One day, Leona asks Emmalee to bring her baby to live with Leona and Curtis, her husband. The next day, their life is changed forever.

Leona has been busy sewing slipcovers and getting Emmalee’s and Kelly Faye’s room ready- so the last thing she needs is a delay in cooking her famous hashbrown casserole for the church. But, it happens and Leona is busy rushing to get things ready for church. On the way to church, while Leona is worried about being later, her husband does not see the log truck drifting in his lane. When he does see the truck, he tries to move over, but moves too far- then loses control. Curtis and Leona die on the way to church.

Emmalee knows that when Mr. Fulton comes to the house, death is in the air. Her daddy, Nolan, helps Mr. Fulton with transporting of the bodies. Emmalee is trying to get Kelly Faye to sleep, and hates to hear the arrival of Mr. Fulton- but especially hates to hear that the bodies are Leona and Curtis. Emmalee mourns the loss of Leona, the one person who believed that Emmalee could be a good mother. Emmalee decides to make her friend a funeral dress, something nice and wonderful for her dear friend, Leona.

Many in the town are against Emmalee, unmarried with a baby, making a funeral dress for Leona, a woman who was church-going. Emmalee is determined to make the dress, though, and she sets out to do just that. Emmalee knows that her friend deserves a beautiful dress, and Emmalee knows that despite her background- the dress is for her to make. No one else would take the time or the care with the dress the way she will.

While Emmalee is making Leona’s dress, she begins to learn more about Leona’s life- the hopes and disappointments- and why Leona decided to ask Emmalee to live with her. Emmalee also begins to realize how much she wants to be a good mother- to provide Kelly Faye with the life she did not have. People in the area, though, have other plans for Kelly Faye and those plans do not include Emmalee. Can Emmalee find the strength to stand up to the town? With the help of an unlikely ally, Emmalee might just be able to.

Traveling With T’s Thoughts:

The Funeral Dress weaves together themes of loss, hope, desire for a better life, finding strength and faith to create a story that is heart-warming and an intimate look at life for women working in a factory. Susan Gregg Gilmore takes two characters that, at first glance have nothing in common, and creates a story where they both play a pivotal role in the others life. Highly recommended for book clubs and fans of Southern Lit.

*This book was requested through Netgalley. All thoughts and opinions are mine alone.

Literary Friday ya’ll……

It’s Friday! Yay!

1. Deep South Mag and their #literaryfridayhas been posted. In this week’s #literaryfriday, there is #giveaways, Paula Deen news, William Faulkner, book signings and a peek into Mary Kay Andrew’s beach house!

Also- today! Chat with Erika Marks about The Guest House, her #literarycrush and other things! Plus, there will be a copy of The Guest House given away- you do not want to miss out! Use #southernlit to join in!

2. A Utah Mom’s Life is hosting a #giveaway of The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio!

3. Luxury Reading is hosting a #giveaway of Elizabeth the First Wife by Lian Dolan.

4. Bookmagnet interviewed Karen Brown- look for her book, The Longings of Wayward Girls to be in stores July 2nd.

5. Liz and Lisa of Chick Lit Is Not Dead are having a #giveaway of Wendy Francis’s Three Good Things!

6. The Relentless Reader is having her 1 year blog-versary! A great #giveaway!

7. I had the pleasure of getting to ask Kimberly McCreight, author of Reconstructing Amelia, some questions this week. Read the Author Spotlight on Kimberly McCreight to find out her #literaryconfessions!

8. I reviewed A Beautiful Heist by Kim Foster (and interviewed Kim, as well!)

9. My #fridayreads: Lie Still by Julia Heaberlin and The Firebird by Susanna Kearsely!

10. Next week, look for interviews with Karen Brown, author spotlights and more on Traveling With T!

Happy Reading!

Interview with Susan Rebecca White author of A Place At The Table

Susan Rebecca White, author of A Place At The Table, stopped by to answer a few questions.

a place at the tableIf you have not read A Place At The Table– go immediately to the nearest bookstore and buy it. Borrow it from library or a friend! Just get your hands on this book. Trust me.

 

Interview with Susan Rebecca White:

Susan, what was the inspiration for A PLACE AT THE TABLE?

Though A Place at the Table is a work of fiction, and neither Bobby Banks nor Alice Stone are stand-ins for Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis, the seeds of inspiration did indeed come from the friendship between Scott and Edna, dubbed “the odd couple of southern cooking.” Miss Lewis has now gone on to her glory, but back in the day she and Scott were great friends, despite the many outward differences between them, most notably race and age. Raised in a community of freed slaves in Virginia, Miss Lewis was over fifty years older than Scott, a young white boy who hailed from a tiny town in Alabama. The two bonded over cooking. Eventually they wrote a cookbook together, The Gift of Southern Cooking, which is a fantastic record of the South’s long and esteemed culinary tradition and heritage, the roots of which come from Africa.

My mom gave me a copy of The Gift of Southern Cooking when it was first published, and I fell in love both with the recipes and the story of Scott and Edna’s friendship. That was long before I ever thought I might write a novel inspired by the two of them. Instead I cooked nearly every recipe in the book, especially when I was living in San Francisco, far from my native South. I would make Scott and Edna’s roast duck stuffed with red rice or something simpler, cheese straws or preacher’s cookies. Doing so allowed me to be back in the South, at least while eating.

This is a long way of saying that while I had my own story to tell in this novel, I wanted to pay homage to Scott and Edna’s atypical and beautiful friendship, to shed light on the unexpected connections between us, rather than the things that keep us divided and suspicious of one another.

 

The characters of Alice and Bobby were inspired by the real life friendship of chefs Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock. Was Amelia or Kate inspired by any real life people? Or are they created from your imagination?

On some levels every single character I write about contains some element of me within them. I guess stating that is to admit that I have many flaws, because my characters are all far from perfect! When I was writing the character of Amelia I was living in the carriage house of my good friends Peter and Bruce, and spending a lot of time with their family, including their daughters Teagan and Olivia. I got to participate in the daily routines of life with young kids: the afternoon bike rides, the early dinners, the bath time rituals before getting to choose a treat for dessert, the stories read and songs sung before bed. I loved the gentle rhythm of family life (though my friend Peter would laugh at my use of the word “gentle” to describe getting his girls to bed—they often fight hard against the day ending.) My time with Teagan and Olivia really influenced my understanding of the type of mother Amelia was to her two girls. I wrote lots and lots of detailed scenes showing Amelia raising her kids, but I ended up cutting a lot of those scenes because while they were important for me to understand, they weren’t important to show the reader in order to carry the story forward. But having written about Amelia as a mother helped me to better know her as a woman. I guess what I’m trying to say is that my personal experience with my friends’ kids helped me build the character of Amelia.

As for Editor Kate, well she’s sort of my ideal. I’ve known a few women like Kate in my life, women who are utterly competent and forthright. Women who make it a point of pride to always keep their word, to be someone their friends and family can rely on.  This type of woman doesn’t let society define who she is—or at least she resists definition. For example, Kate doesn’t mind being traditional (she has prepared many dinners for her husband) but she also has no qualms breaking all types of boundaries in terms of the work she does and the space she makes for herself in the world. Through Kate I wrote a model of a woman I would one day like to be.

 

Have we, as readers, heard the last from Bobby, Amelia and others in A PLACE AT THE TABLE? Or are you open to revisiting those characters in a future book, perhaps?

Oh wow, I haven’t ever thought about writing a sequel to this book but I appreciate the question because it makes me think you want to read more! I would certainly be interested in knowing what happens to both Amelia and Bobby over the next fifteen years. I have a feeling that Bobby will settle down with another partner at some point. Maybe he’ll even become a dad. As for Amelia, I think her life will be much calmer than it was when she was with Cam. She’ll live lower on the hog but she’ll be happier, more content. The problem is that happy and content lives aren’t always the most interesting to write about. So I wouldn’t hold your breath for a sequel, but I can promise you that there will be another novel from me. I’m working on it now!

 

 

*Special thanks to Susan Rebecca White for answering the questions and to Al for her help as well.

 

susan rw

 Susan Rebecca White is working on her next novel. For more information on Susan, please visit her website.

 

 

* Traveling With T’s review of A Place At The Table can be found here.

Michael Morris- Man in a Blue Moon- She Reads November Book Club Pick

Today is November 1- which means it’s time for She Reads to publicly announce it’s November book club pick. The book of the month is: ****drumroll, drumroll,drumroll**** MAN IN A BLUE MOON by Michael Morris.

Check back with She Reads for monthly discussion questions and chances to win prizes. We all love #giveaways don’t we?

If you do the Twitter thing- use HT #srblog to see what members of the She Reads blog group is having to saying about MAN IN A BLUE MOON.

Couple of other important notes: Deep South Magazine will host Twitter chat with Michael Morris Friday, Nov 2nd, from 1-2pmCST (that’s TOMORROW!) Use hashtag #southernlit to follow along with chat- also use Tweetchat if possible- makes for a better chat experience. However, Deep South Mag RT (retweets) the questions and answers- so people can still follow along, even if they do  not use Tweetchat.

To find out more about the Twitter chat tomorrow with Michael Morris- read here!

Also, the fantastic Kimberly Brock (perhaps you’ve read me raving on about her debut book- The River Witch?) had a chance to interview Michael Morris. Her interview is enlightening and terrific. For the interview, read here.

Hope to “see” you tomorrow at the Michael Morris chat- it should be a fun time.

Literary Friday ya’ll…

It’s here! It’s arrived! Literary Friday!

Don’t forget 1-2 pm CST time TODAY Kathy Patrick (@pulpwoodqueen) chat with Deep South Magazine! Hashtag is #southernlit. Follow along for insights into Girlfriend Weekend, tiaras and books.

1. Deep South Magazine is discussing these things for Literary Friday: Steel Magnolias, Best Indie Bookstores, Best Bookcovers, Decatur Book Fest, Grand Festival of Books in Fairhope, AL- and much more is discussed this Literary Friday!

PS: While there is still a feeling of summer in the air, Erin is not letting that keep her from being hard at work on the Deep South Mag Fall/Winter Reading List. I’m so ready to see what books made this list this time- perhaps The Mermaid Collector by Erika Marks (she’s the genius behind Little Gale Gumbo) will make the list.

2. #fridayreads- Death in Four Courses by Lucy Burdette, The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. What are ya’ll reading?

3. What books are you excited about coming out in the next few weeks? Look back here next week for a list of books coming out that I’m excited about! And be prepared to share your list!

Side note: Next week posts will be scarce- Life will be in the way of my blogging for a few days as I watch my brother get married.

Happy Reading and have a fantastic Literary Friday!