Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Tom Franklin


When Cindy Walker goes missing in 1982, the people of Chabot, Mississippi blame Larry Ott, the boy who picked her up for a date, but never brought her home.  Although never arrested, Larry is shunned by the townspeople, who hate him for what they think he did.  Now, twenty-five years later, a second girl disappears.  Is Larry, now a loner on the outskirts of town, responsible?  Could there have been other girls?  Silas Jones, the town constable and once Larry’s boyhood friend, is determined to find out.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter is a mystery crime story about a town hampered by racism.  As boys on their own and running through the woods, it didn’t matter that Larry was white and Silas was black.  Now grown men, they are no longer friends, but they share a history that neither completely understands and both have struggled to get past.  Years ago, Silas ran and Larry stayed.  Now they must overcome massive obstacles and if they do, they must then ask themselves, “Can a broken friendship be fixed?”

I loved this book, which is a great story on many levels, first with an intriguing scenario and a character-driven plot, but second with an important setting, full of moral questions about the impact of decisions and equally of the characters’ action or inaction.  Themes of family, friendship, religion and love are prominent, making the book a true literary work as well.  No wonder it is an award-winning best-seller!

Franklin jumps between the two time periods and fills in the details regarding Cindy’s disappearance.  We learn about Larry and Silas as both boys and men, and begin to understand their relationship to each other as well as to their families.  All this is enhanced by a close look at the culture of Chabot, the perspectives of people who perpetuate prejudice and others who try to rise above it.  Franklin puts his characters in situations in which they have the chance to step up and make things right and he makes the reader ask, “Is it ever too late to do that?”

With an uncertain, but hopeful finish, this is the type of book that generates thought long after the last page, one of my favorite measures of a great read.  While more about the people than the crime, it also stands as a mystery, with a well-paced plot and developments that help tie up the details.  I recommend Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter to anyone who likes mysteries, but also to readers of books about conflicted characters.

Who's that author finalWant to know more about the author?  Click here to read Who’s That Author?  Tom Franklin

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Who’s That Indie Author? Kathryn Occhipinti, M.D.



Author name:  Kathryn Occhipinti, M.D.

Genre:  Adult Italian Language (for travel)

BooksConversational Italian for Travelers series: Textbook and…pocket book “Just the Important Phrases (with Restaurant Vocabulary and Idiomatic Expressions)…reference books, “Just the Verbs” and “Just the Grammar”


Bio: Dr. Kathryn Occhipinti is a radiologist of Italian-American descent who has been leading Italian language groups in the Peoria and Chicago areas for about 10 years.

Using her experiences as a teacher and frequent traveler to Italy, she wrote the Conversational Italian for Travelers series of books, designed to make learning a second language easy and enjoyable for the adult audience. These books have a unique approach, as they tell a story; we follow the character Caterina on her travels through Italy, while at the same time learning the fundamentals of the Italian language.

Favorite thing about being a writer: Writing has opened up a whole new world for me, as I’ve been able to meet many people who love the same things that I do (outside of medicine) – my Italian heritage, the Italian culture, travel, and of course language.

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Getting my message out that people will really find these books enjoyable as well as helpful: my books are friendly and combine travel tips and humorous anecdotes that truly make learning the Italian language come alive! My Conversational Italian for Travelers “textbook” is truly different from other Italian language books because the focus is on Conversational Italian – all the Italian you really need to know to feel comfortable in Italy. This textbook includes my unique travel and culture insights gained from real-life experiences visiting Italy. Also, I developed my materials while teaching, so they are very practical and include material not found in other books.

(Most importantly) Favorite book: Italian mystery novels by Andrea Camilleri, mystery writer: “Il campo del Vasaio” The Potter’s Field is one of his best.  These books were made into the “Detective Montalbano” series by the BBC, which I watch almost every day.  The writer lived in and the series was filmed in the Occhipinti home town of Ragusa and surrounding area.  Amazing insights into human nature and the culture of Sicily through a lead detective who bridges the worlds of common people and those in power – in politics, the media and mafia in order to solve very “true to life” cases.

Contact Information:  The website associated with the books is: FREE interactive dialogues recorded by native Italian speakers, cultural notes, and Italian recipes to make learning the language really come alive.

Kathryn Occhipinti Amazon Author Page
WordPress Blog: Conversational Italian! 
Blog: Learn Italian!:
Facebook: Stella Lucente Italian
Twitter: @travelitalian1
Pinterest: Stella Lucente Italian
YouTube: Stella Lucente Italian

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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The Fever by Megan Abbott

The Fever

Megan Abbott


Dryden’s small town high school is a normal place until Lise Daniels has a mysterious seizure in class.  And panic takes over when other girls become ill, with alarming and bizarre symptoms.  Doctors are stumped, parents are in a frenzy and, within the dark and secret teenage culture, Lise’s girlfriends wonder who will be next.

Parents point to the HPV vaccine recently given to all the girls and others think it could be toxins in the school or in the closed-off lake in town, thick with strange foam and algae.  But maybe its cause is something entirely different.  Whatever it is, the media jumps in with all the angles and it’s not long before the police get involved.

The Fever is Megan Abbott’s 2014 modern story about complicated adolescence and sexuality, broken families, false friendships and jealousy.  The story’s central figures are chemistry teacher Tom Nash and his high school children, hockey star Eli and Lise’s best friend, Deenie.  News travels at the lightning speed of texts and uploaded YouTube videos, adding fever to the frightening illnesses.  As the investigation continues, the reader learns about the dynamics of Deenie’s friendship with Lise, Gabby Bishop and the weirdly frightening Skye Osbourne, Gabby’s new free-spirited friend with vintage skirts and bangles on her thin arms.

Abbott does a great job portraying the girls in a contrasting light, initially as clingy and giggly schoolgirls, dressed in brightly colored tights and neon sneakers, but also as teenagers obsessed with intense friendships and lost virginity.  Unexplained events and characters add a paranormal layer to this already mysterious story.  I also like how she integrates the town and its dreary environment into the mood of the story, one of my favorite types of storytelling.

The Fever is a quick and dark read, with a mildly compelling plot and somewhat forgettable characters, but it is otherwise entertaining.  I recommend it to anyone who likes stories about teenagers and their secret lives.

reconstructing amelia

And if you like to read about the scary lives of teenagers, you may like Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight.

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New year, new look!

Things are looking a little different on Book Club Mom, but the content is the same – just a fresh coat of paint and a some new pictures.

Oh, and I have changed my rating images a bit.  Take a look!

Best of the best:




Very good:




Didn’t enjoy:


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Who’s That Indie Author? Tammie Painter

Who's That Indie Author pic


Author name:  Tammie Painter

Genre:  Fantasy Fiction

BookThe Trials of Hercules; The Voyage (Books 1 & 2 of The Osteria Chronicles)


Bio:  Tammie Painter grew up in the creative world of Portland, Oregon, and she continues to call the City of Roses home. Although she spent years working as a chemist in a behavioral neuroscience research lab, she could never quite tame her desire to express herself through words and images. When circumstances provided her the chance to pursue a creative career, she seized it and has never looked back. In her novels, Tammie loves to explore and bring new life to the stories of history and mythology. She has been the recipient of numerous awards for her short stories and essays, and has written hundreds of articles for local, national, and international magazines as well as the Internet.

Favorite thing about being a writer: I love starting with only a sentence or two describing what is supposed to happen in a chapter and watching my pen and my brain turn those few words into several pages brimming with dialogue, actions, and settings. If anyone can make magic, it has to be a writer!

Biggest challenge as an indie author: Trying to fight the stereotype that “self-published book” means a book of lesser quality than one published by a traditional publisher. If self-publishing is ever to be taken seriously, anyone who wants to self-publish must (MUST!!) accept the responsibility of not only creating a great story, but also of editing and revising and copyediting to remove spelling errors, grammar issues, and plot/character inconsistencies. (And yes, I get a little smug when I find errors in books published by the big name publishers.)

Favorite book: I can’t even imagine trying to pick one. The books I’ve read most often are Watership Down by Richard Adams, The Hitchhiker series by Douglas Adams, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The book that left me the feeling of “Wow!” most strongly is The Humans by Matt Haig.

Contact Information:

Are you an indie author?  Do you want to build your indie author network? Why not get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author?

Email for a bio template and other details, and follow along on Book Club Mom to join the indie author community!

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Blog views and other obsessions – Facebook Page Feed frustration


I don’t think I will ever understand Facebook’s settings.  Is there anyone out there who does?  Let me tell you what has been happening to me:

Like many people, I have a personal Facebook page, but when I started my blog, I created a separate Book Club Mom page.  Then I went about “Liking” pages as my new FB blog page.  For a while, I would see news from these newly liked pages on my page feed.  And I was a happy FB blogger, liking and sharing posts.  I liked new pages as they came along, jumped to my blog and then to Twitter and had a great time integrating all three.  Life was good.

Recently I noticed that the majority of these pages no longer appear on my page feed.  Instead, my feed is dominated by “For Reading Addicts” and “Bookstr” – there is good stuff on these, don’t get me wrong, but where is everyone else?

Today I set out to fix the problem.  I went to my Book Club Mom page, scrolled down to the box on the right that said “Liked by this Page” and there was a list of the pages.  But strangely, many of them had not been liked and were waiting for me to click the “Like” button to the right.  Makes no sense!  I clicked and clicked, thinking, “Okay, problem solved” and then suddenly this popped up on my screen:


Feeling wronged, I clicked on the link to let them know and filled out this form:


I’m still blocked, but I got this nice message:


Who knows when I’ll be unblocked or if re-liking all those pages will take care of the problem, but my fingers are crossed!

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Blogging Friends

Image:  Pixabay
Image: Pixabay

After three and a half years on WordPress, I’ve made a great group of blogging friends.  When things get busy and I can’t check in for a day or two, I find myself wondering how everyone is doing.  Besides the book reviews, new fiction, and other important blogging posts, I like reading everyone’s miscellaneous news and random musings.  And I’m sitting here thinking, “Oh, I need to tell my friends this, or that” because that’s what friends do, in person or in the cyber world, right?

echo-park crooked-letter-crooked-letterA lot has been going on in my Book Club Mom world.  I went back to work almost a year ago and I love my library job.  This month I will be leading the mystery book club at the library and in the future I will be sharing that job with one of the librarians.  I sat in on last month’s meeting, where we discussed Echo Park by Michael Connelly, an excellent mystery thriller.  I hope to have time to start at the beginning of Connelly’s books and work my way through them.  This month we are reading Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin.  I have the book and will be starting that soon.  I’m very excited about doing this!

the-fever the-most-dangerous-place-on-earthThis month, my personal book club is reading The Fever by Megan Abbott.  I’m going to try to start that tonight.  I don’t know much about it, but Gillian Flynn calls it “a mesmerizing modern portrait of teenage life today.”  Since I just finished reading (and loved!) The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson, also about teenagers, I think The Fever will be a nice one to follow with.

cover-reveal-smallerI’m in the final stages of helping publish A Fortunate Life by Fred H. Rohn.  I have learned a great deal about self-publishing and will be blogging about that separately.  I’d love to get a dialogue going with all my indie author friends about their experiences getting books to print and online and marketing challenges.  We’re already working on a second book, a collection of short fiction.

I’m getting ready to update my blog page, but I need some time to get my ideas in order.  So look for some new banners, photos and color schemes in the next few months.


I’m working on a new “Blog views and other obsessions” post with a bunch of different topics.  For one, I cannot figure out my Book Club Mom Facebook feed.  I’ve “liked” a ton of pages, but I never see them on my feed.  I’d also like to do something more with my Goodreads group of friends because I see a lot of potential there.  I’m wondering how I can integrate that account with my other social media.  I’ll be talking about Twitter too, because I’m using it a lot more now and have learned a few things (it’s good to have teenagers and college kids handy!)

Image: Pixabay

I’m so thankful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts and comment.  I try every chance I get to read your blogs too because I am genuinely interested in what you have to say.  I feel bad when I can’t check in on everyone’s blogs all the time, but I’m trying to visit you all on a regular basis.  I’m also thankful for a bunch of new followers and plan to share the love by highlighting them in a separate post.  (It is the Valentine month, right?)  I got that idea from Noelle Granger at Sayling Away so be sure to check out her blog here.

So that’s it for now, but I’ll be seeing you out there!  Happy blogging!

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