Thursday, November 14, 2019

Review & Giveaway: The Family Journal by Carolyn Brown

I'm a big fan of Carolyn Brown's romances which always make me laugh, sometimes cry, but always leave me with a smile on my face. I'm thrilled to be part of the blog tour for The Family Journal, because it's her 100th book! That's quite an accomplishment! I have a Q & A with Ms. Brown below about writing 100 Books.  Also, I have my review, and a giveaway: A copy of The Family Journal with $25 Amazon Gift Card! Be sure to scroll down to the bottom to enter for a chance to win!

Publication Date: November 12th 2019 by Montlake Romance
Pages: 296
Source: Publisher
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible

About the book:

At the end of her rope, single mom Lily Anderson is determined to move her rebellious children in the right direction. That means taking away their cell phones, tablets, and computers—at least temporarily—and moving to the house where Lily grew up in the rural town of Comfort, Texas. But Lily has a bigger challenge than two sulking kids.

The house comes with Mack Cooper, high school teacher and handsome longtime renter. The arrangement: just housemates. But Mack’s devoted attention to the kids starts to warm Lily’s resistant heart. Then Lily finds an old leather-bound book in which five generations of her female ancestors shared their struggles and dreams. To Lily, it’s a bracing reminder about the importance of family . . . and love.

Now it’s time for Lily to add an adventurous new chapter to the cherished family journal—by embracing a fresh start and taking a chance on a man who could make her house a home.

My Thoughts:
Single mom, Lily Anderson decides to move her kids back to her little hometown of Comfort, Texas after catching them on the wrong path.  Tough love in the form of taking all electronic devices away from them along with moving from the city to a small town is drastic and doesn’t win her any popularity contests with her twelve and fourteen-year old. But getting back to her roots proves to be a smart move for their family.  Mack Cooper, the renter at her family home is a stabilizing force for both Lily and her kids.  His support and company are an unexpected gift, but it’s the spark of attraction that’s surprising to both Lily and Mack, since both had resigned to facing the future alone.

Five years since her husband left her Lily was sort of on autopilot with work taking up much of her time, but her kids getting into trouble was a wakeup call. Lily struggles with that knowledge as well as guilt over not taking more time with her mom before she passed away. Coming back to Comfort helped her stand back and take stock of what’s important in life. The discovery of an old family journal chronicling the struggles and challenges of her ancestors provides a view into the lives of women spanning decades into the past. The journal touches Lily’s heart and bolsters her in her efforts to put her family back on the right path.

I just loved Carolyn Brown’s 100th novel! The Family Journal touches on situations and feelings a lot of women can relate to.  Lily’s struggles, and self-doubt are the kind most mother’s have felt at one time or another.  I loved the idea of simplifying and focusing on what’s important in life, and I appreciated that Lily stuck to her guns and made her kids learn the lesson of consequence for actions. She did it in a loving way, though, and I think that helped win her kids over quicker than anything.

4 Suns


Carolyn Brown Answers Questions About Writing a Hundred Books

1. Tell us about the first time you remember ever putting pen to paper. Was it a slow evolution to becoming an author, or did you have an epiphany that this is what you were supposed to be doing?

I really can’t remember when I didn’t write stories, but I got serious about writing a book when my third child was born. She had her days and nights turned around. Since I had to be up until the wee hours of the morning, I got out a notebook, sharpened some pencils and started my first novel. I was twenty-four that year. For the next twenty-five years I collected rejection slips. I do believe I have enough to wallpaper the White House. I don’t mean that little two holer down at the end of the path in Grammie’s back yard, but the one in Washington, D.C. When I was forty-nine, I got “the call”. That was twenty-two years and one hundred books ago, and I know in my heart and soul that this is what I’m supposed to be doing.

2. Is there anyone in your family that writes? Did you have a mentor that helped you push forward to become a full-time author?

My husband, Charles C. Brown, has written nine mysteries and is working on his tenth. He's been my biggest supporter through my whole career. He’s a retired high school English teacher and he does the first edit on my books. Commas are not my friend, but they are his buddies—thank goodness.

3. How have you evolved as an author? What are some things that have changed since when you started writing up until now?

In the physical part of the business, lots has changed. I wrote most of my very first book by hand. When Mr. B bought a used typewrite at a garage sale and brought it in to me, I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. In those sent in proposals with SASE (that’s self-addressed stamped envelopes) and if the editor wanted to see more, we sent in the full manuscript by mail. Now everything is sent over cyberspace. I will be donating the typewriter Mr. B bought me to the Johnston County Chickasaw Bank Museum on November 16th. My display shares a room there with Te Ata, Gene Autry and Blake Shelton. I’m signing copies of The Family Journal there on that day from 2 to 4 p.m. 

In the evolution as a write, I hope that each book is better than the last and that all my books resonate with readers, touch their emotions and make them anxious to get the next one.

4. Do you have a set schedule for writing? Do you have any writing rituals or things that get you in the mood to write?

I’m very disciplined. I write somewhere between three and five thousand words a day. Sometimes it’s pure trash, but you can fix trash. You can’t fix nothing. From the time I start a book, my characters are in my head. They eat with me, sleep with me, talk to me…. shhhh…don’t tell anyone I hear voices!

5. Tell us about some turning points as a writer - some big things that happened that really changed your career.

One of the biggest things that changed my career was when Amazon bought the literary company, Avalon, and turned more than forty of my titles into paperbacks and digital. That made them financially available for more people, and my readership grew by leaps and bounds. Another was when I finally made the New York Times and the USA Today bestseller lists. But I have to say that hitting the number one spot on Amazon was a really the icing on the cupcake.

6. What does your writing future look like?

My future will simply be to keep on doing what I’m doing, and hope my readers continue to love my stories. There are five books on the docket for 2020, and four or five novellas. And we’ve already got a few scheduled for 2021.

7. What made you want your book, The Family Journal, your hundredth book? What makes this story and these characters special to you?

Family! Plain and simple. What better way to celebrate reaching one of my goals—to publish one hundred books—than to write about family? This story is about several generations of strong women in the past, a mother who’s at her wit’s end in the present, and a young daughter who represents the future. It’s family from the emotional first scene to the last. 

About the author:
Carolyn Brown is a RITA finalist and the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of one hundred books. Her genres include contemporary and historical romances, cowboy and country music romances, and women’s fiction. She and her husband live in the small town of Davis, Oklahoma, where everyone knows everyone else, knows what they are doing and when . . . and reads the local newspaper every Wednesday to see who got caught. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Visit Carolyn at

Connect with Carolyn Brown:

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  1. 100th novel! WOW! That's really impressive. I've always wanted to try Carolyn Brown as I've heard really amazing things about her books, but didn't know where to begin. I saw a few of them on KU, so I'll definitely check them out. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Rachel!

    1. I know, it is impressive! My favorites are: Daisies in the Canyon, Long Hot Texas Summer, and if you want to laugh your head off A Heap of Texas Trouble. But all her books are fun. I can't wait to hear what you think if you decide to pick one of her books up. :)

  2. Yay, glad you loved it, too, Rachel. We'll have to share swooning over Mack.

    That was a fun interview!

    Oh man, my favorite. This is going to hurt my brain. I've narrowed it down to two: The Lilac Bouquet and The Red Hot Chili Cook Off.

    1. I love her interviews and write ups. She always make me laugh. Yes, I loved Mack! I listed my favorites above: Daisies in the Canyon, Long, Hot Texas Summer, and I forgot The Sometime Sisters, but I haven't read The Lilac Bouquet, but I just realized A Heap of Texas Trouble is also called The Red Hot Chili Cook Off, so we share that favorite! That one had me laughing sooo hard! :)

  3. I actually have not read Carolyn Brown yet but I do have a few of her titles on my shelf. This sounds like a great read. I am not sure which is more impressive 100 books or continuing to try to get a book published for so long. Kudos to Ms. Brown!

    1. It is impressive! I agree! Hope you get to read one of her books soon. :)

  4. i don't have a favourite title yet

  5. I haven't read any of her books but I'd love to

  6. 100th! I have read something between 20 and 30. I am behind. I do not really have a fav one either, they all give me the feels

    1. I still have a ways to go, too. I just checked and I'm at 24. Looks like we have a lot of good stories ahead. :)

  7. I have not read many of her books, one I think :D I really need to look into her books more

  8. I love a small town romance! I love that this was a story that you could relate to as a woman and a mother, and that it did a good job of focusing on what's important in life. Lovely Review Rachel :)

  9. I loved The Strawberry Hearts Diner.

  10. I have not read any of her books but would love to .

  11. I honestly haven't read any of her books yet, but I would like to!

  12. Congratulations to the author! I am sad to say that I have not read her books, yet.

  13. I loved A Heap of Texas Trouble. I look forward to reading more of her work!