Across the States Part 3

Welcome back, intrepid travelers and adventurous readers! The coach is waiting so let’s go. No, not the bus, the stage coach! Because our first book takes place in 1895.

21. Iowa. The Hawkeye state is beautiful and bursting with agriculture, food production, and insurance. The highest point is Hawkeye Point, 1,670 feet in the air. (To compare, the Laguna Mountains in California high point is 6,000 feet) Lake Manawa State Park, near Council Bluffs, offers lush scenery and sailing opportunities. And is the setting for a new series of romances called Lake Manawa Summers by Lorna Seilstad. The first one, Making Waves, attracted lots of reviews that were highly polarized. Readers loved it or did not so much, but everyone felt something about this story. Isn’t that why we write?

22. Missouri. Going in, this seemed like a tough choice, but then a title jumped out at me. Like many others, I often enjoy a book better than the movie made from it. And in this case, I saw the movie first. Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell has been made into a magnificent movie. A poor family in the Ozarks holds the spotlight, as sixteen-year-old Ree shoulders the responsibility of both parents because someone has to. Her journey to a secure life is one of the most memorable. I can’t wait to dig in to the book, and get more information about the Dolly family.

23. Arkansas. Seems I have a weakness for romances where the main characters have known each other, maybe all their lives, maybe just a few years, and don’t realize the feelings between them until it’s almost too late. I know this book is not new, and as a romance from the 1990s probably sweeter than today’s brand. But the hooks for me are a female rancher holding her own in a man’s world, someone declaring he’s going to marry her, and her best friend realizing he never wants to let her go. Courting Miss Hattie by Pamela Morsi looks like a hidden treasure.

24. Louisiana. Anne Rice is not the only writer who thinks New Orleans and/or Louisiana to be the best location for vampires and other paranormal sorts. At least six series are set in this local. So for some odd reason, a title with the word “nerd” caught my attention. And while it is a young adult story, that won’t detract from the enjoyment for me. As soon as the description said a comic convention, I was hooked and gasping for oxygen. The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller is a fairy tale, because in reality nerds rarely have double lives, but there is a spark of reality in knowing what you would like to be might not match what the world expects of you.

25. Mississippi. So many pre-programed thoughts come up for this state. Mark Twain, riverboats, civil rights, Ol’ Man River, I could do a whole blog about this. Imagine my surprise when the first book on the list fit what I looked for. The Help by Katherine Stockett looks at the blurred lines between people based on skin color in 1962. A devoted servant is often thought of as a member of the family, but society would be aghast if that servant sat at the same table with everyone. Even a young white woman with a college education is expected marry, not to set about having a career. Times have changed some, but if you look around, you’ll see we still have a long way to go.

26. Alabama. As long as we are taking a trip into the past, let’s to back to the Civil War, shall we? Not to dredge up old grudges or make a mockery of the sacrifices throughout the states, I think a romance between two people keeping secrets will be calming right now. And will also inspect the idea of two different secrets allowing one person to trust another. Redeeming Gabriel by Elizabeth White is a Harlequin Romance.

27. Tennessee. First impressions on the list of books for this state were that the novels were about assassins, vampires, and mercenaries. And I’m not saying those can’t be good stories. However, I found a series that appeals to me greatly. All three books take place in Tennessee, a plus! The first one is titled Until November (Until #1) and the main female character is named November. How cool is that? I read the blurbs on the other two books, and these are going on my to read list for sure. Aurora Rose Reynolds is a bestselling author for New York Times and USA Today.

28. Kentucky. How can there be no novels involving horses set in Kentucky? Well, there are, I just had to add to my search criteria. But with horses in the story, the plot turns to murder and mystery. And drugs. And the Mafia. So I went all the way back to 1977 when Janet Daily published her Americana series, a book set in every state. What a great concept! And her Bluegrass King is just what I am looking for: involves horses, love, and no one gets murdered. I think.

29. Illinois. If you are thinking 1930s gangsters, you are probably my age. If you are thinking legislation for or against goose liver pâté, you may be younger. Two of my favorite authors come up on the list, Neal Gaiman for American Gods, and Ray Bradbury for Dandelion Wine. Down the list, however, I found a book with lots of 5 star ratings from readers, and looked into it. Not really sure of the plot, but it’s a Male/Male romance that is solidly written and is a lead-in to a series. The main theme is that an ordinary person can be just what an extraordinary person is looking for in his life. Works for me! Warrior’s Cross by the lauded writing team of Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux.

30. Wisconsin. Say Cheese! Sorry, I couldn’t resist. And the last book for today is another irresistible draw for me. Going back to my teen years, when I discovered the local Mythopeic Society chapter, attended by many of my friends from another science fiction club. The book under discussion at that meeting was Way Station by Clifford D. Simak. Alien technology is good, but it can only send a being so far. There have to be stopping points where other sets of equipment can forward the being on his or her or it’s way. Imagine being chosen to guard the place where this happens! Not all wonderful, for sure, but fascinating.

We’ll stop here today, but be back on Sunday with another 10 states. Thanks for reading!


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