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If you enjoy reading this blog, you may also like to read the articles I write each week as the Springfield Genealogy Examiner and as the Ozarks Cultural Heritage Examiner. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a one. You may also enjoy reading about the family stories in my novels at The Homeplace Series blog. You can sign up for e-mail reminders.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Book Blog Tour - Review - Crazy is Normal

Book Blog Tour - Review
Crazy is Normal

It is a pleasure to participate in the Book Blog Tour for Lloyd Lofthouse's "Crazy is Normal."

I love the title, I must admit.

Lloyd has provided us with a special peek into his life, for one year, as a teacher. Somehow, he managed to keep a very detailed journal for that year, and has now shared it with us in this memoir.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Publisher: Three Clover Press (June 14, 2014)
ISBN: 978-0986032851

Category: Biographies and Memoirs, Educators

Tour Date: October, 2014

Available in: Print & ebook, 386 Pages

Multi-award winning author, Lloyd Lofthouse kept a daily journal for one-full school year and that journal became the primary source of this teacher’s memoir.

“Readers who envision eager students lapping up learning led by a Tiger Teacher will be disappointed. Lofthouse presents us with grungy classrooms, kids who don’t want to be in school, and the consequences of growing up in a hardscrabble world. While some parents support his efforts, many sabotage them—and isolated administrators make the work of Lofthouse and his peers even more difficult.
Throughout this memoir, though, Lofthouse seems able to keep the hope alive that there’s a future for each student that doesn’t include jail—thanks in large part to his sixth period journalism class and its incredible editor, Amanda.”
– Bruce Reeves

About Lloyd Lofthouse:

Little did Lloyd Lofthouse know in 1999, when he married Anchee Min, that he was beginning a journey of discovery. His first trip to The Middle Kingdom was on the honeymoon with his bride, who introduced him to China and Robert Hart (1835-1911), the main characters in Lloyd’s first two novels, My Splendid Concubine and Our Hart. The next decade was a journey of discovery. Lloyd now lives near San Francisco with his wife–with a second home in Shanghai, China.
Lloyd earned a BA in journalism in 1973 after fighting in Vietnam as a U.S. Marine. While working days as an English teacher, he enjoyed a second job as a maitre d’ in a multimillion-dollar nightclub. His short story, A Night at the ‘Well of Purity’ was named as a finalist for the 2007 Chicago Literary Awards. Lloyd has won 15 awards for My Splendid Concubine and 5 awards for Running With the Enemy.


Author’s Den:



‘Crazy Is Normal’ will be on sale for only $0.99 from October 1-November 15, 2014 on Kindle!

My Review:

As a writer myself, I was totally impressed that Lloyd Lofthouse could have kept such a complete and detailed journal as to be able to recreate this fabulous memoir of such length and complexity many years after the fact. His portrayal of life in the class room is stunning, realistic, and even a little scary. You really get the feeling you are that little "fly on the wall" - put sitting on his shoulder witnessing exactly what he experienced, day by day, in that classroom.
Some readers my find this memoir tedious reading. But, if you really want to get into the situation and understand his experience in depth, you will be enthralled by his pace and descriptions of students, administrators, and the school environment.
Lofthouse came away from this experience with very strong feelings about how education in this environment should be handled versus how it is handled in most situations. View of the video clip to understand his feelings better.

Video clip- interview:

To see what others have to say about this book, here is the schedule for the entire tour:

Crazy Is Normal Web Tour Schedule:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Oct. 1 Review & Giveaway
Inspire to Read Oct. 2  Guest Post & Excerpt
Cassandra M's Place Oct. 6 Review & Giveaway
Pinky's Favorite Reads Interview & Excerpt
Dr Bill's Book Bazaar Oct. 8 Review                                               
Being Tillys Mummy Oct 9 Guest Post & Excerpt
Unselfish Oct 13 Review                                               
Back Porchervations Oct 14 Review, Interview, & Excerpt
Sincerely Stacie            Oct. 15 Review                                               
Heck Of A Bunch Oct. 17 Review & Giveaway
Books, Books & More Books Oct 21 Review                                               
Rockin' Book Reviews Oct 22 Review, Interview, and  Excerpt
The Book Binder's Daughter Oct. 23 Review & Interview
The News in Books Oct. 29 Review & Guest Post
M. Denise Costello Oct. 30 Review & Excerpt
DWD's Reviews Oct. 31 Review
She Treads Softly Nov. 3 Review                                               
CelticLady's Reviews Nov 4 Review                                               
My Devotional Thoughts            Nov. 5 Review & Excerpt
Manic Mama of 2 Nov. 6 Review & Excerpt
Deal Sharing Aunt Nov 7 Review, Interview, & Excerpt
What U Talking Bout Willis? Nov 10 Review & Excerpt
From Isi Nov 11            Review                   
Happy Reading!
Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, August 4, 2014

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Remains of Innocence

It's Monday, What are You Reading?

Remains of Innocence
(Joanna Brady Mysteries Book 16)
by J.A. Jance
This post is the eighty-second entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

Two for One...

I always read these (Joanna Brady Mystery Books) as soon as they come out… Had a bonus this time. A novella came out a couple of weeks before the novel… we got it on Kindle, had it read by the time the novel arrived… ;-)

Book Description from Amazon - The Old Blue Line:

Butch Dixon has been taken for a ride …
Not a jump in the car, see the sights kind of ride. He's been taken for everything he has. He's lost his house, his restaurant business, his savings, his car, his best friend, his faith—all to his conniving ex-wife. But that was seven years ago. He picked himself up, left Chicago, and started over in Peoria, Arizona, running the Roundhouse Bar and Grill. He doesn't look back on those bad years; there's no point. Not until two curious cops show up at the Roundhouse.
Faith, Butch's ex-wife, has been murdered, and the evidence points to him. Stunned, Butch quickly realizes that the black-hearted woman is going to ruin him again, from her grave. Lucky for Butch, the Old Blue Line, a group of retired—but still sharp and tenacious—former legal and law enforcement coots, have taken it upon themselves, as a favor, to make sure he doesn't cross that thin line. After the dust settles, Butch's life is again upended—when a little red-haired ball of fire, Sheriff Joanna Brady, takes a seat at his bar.

Book Description from Amazon - Remains of Innocence:

Sheriff Joanna Brady must solve two perplexing cases that may be tied together in New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance’s thrilling tale of suspense that brings to life Arizona’s Cochise County and the desert Southwest in all its beauty and mystery.
An old woman, a hoarder, is dying of emphysema in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. In cleaning out her house, her daughter, Liza Machett, discovers a fortune in hundred dollar bills hidden in the tall stacks of books and magazines that crowd every corner.
Tracing the money’s origins will take Liza on a journey that will end in Cochise County, where Sheriff Joanna Brady is embroiled in a personal mystery of her own. A man she considers a family friend is found dead at the bottom of a hole in a limestone cavern near Bisbee. And now there is the mystery of Liza and the money. Are the two disparate cases connected? It’s up to Joanna to find out.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Writing Life Blog Hop, July 7, 2014

The Writing Life Blog Hop, July 7, 2014

Fellow author and genealogist, Michelle Goodrum, invited me to participate in a writing life blog hop. I sounded like a fine way to allow the reader to get into the heads of various writers so I agreed.  You can see who is featured in next week's post at the end of this post.

The questions:

1) What am I writing or working on?

I recently finished the first twenty episodes of a new series of short stories set in 1876 that I published on HubPages as individual stories. Then, I incorporated them into an eBook, "The Kings of Oak Springs," using Lulu. I've published my nonfiction there, but not my fiction. Also, this was my first eBook-only publication. It went very well for a first time out. My other fiction is published via CreateSpace and Amazon, in soft back hard copy and Kindle.
Using my family publishing company, we are putting the finishing touches on a collection of stories on The Founding (1833-1876) which are the backstories of my earlier novels in "The Homeplace Saga" series. The next two books, one set in the 1999, and the other set at the turn of the 19th-20th century, are being formulated in my head (and in some notes) and are somewhat related. Presumably, these will be novel "ish" books number six and seven in the series.
One other project is my "Weston Wagons West" series of short stories, again, published separately, on HubPages. This is a fictional extended family (from 1600s to current day) who interact, through the years, with my actual ancestors that I have researched over the years. What fun!! Most recently, one of these lines actually interacts with my "The Homeplace Saga" characters in Missouri. It is purely fictional, and adds an exciting new perspective on my most familiar characters. These episodes will eventually be packaged as eBooks, as well (especially now that I know how easy it actually is, if you keep it simple!).

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My genre is the family saga. I know of no other family saga set in the heartland of America, set in one location, with the same set of families through many years (the saga). The stories are in the tradition of Little House on the Prairie being inspired by my passion for family history and genealogy research as well as life experiences. As more stories are generated, more stories are inspired. The early stories focused on four families. Recently, I introduced a family new to the area, and am letting them tell the stories of the community from this additional perspective. These are "real-lifelike" families and deserve to have their stories told.

3) Why do I write what I do?

Basically, because I must. I am a writer. That is what I do. I read and I write. I studied writing in the late 1980s, but then decided earning my PhD was more important for my family. During the 15 years I was a college professor, my wife and I focused on family history and genealogy research as our primary "hobby." Upon retirement, at age 70, I committed to my writing career. I write because I must, not for money (thankfully!). The fiction I now write is a culmination and consolidation of many years of family history study and life experiences. My nonfiction writing is an outlet for what I am thinking and doing that does not go into my fiction. This mostly relates to a deep interest in "heritage" - that is, the historical, cultural, and natural aspects of life.

4) How does my writing process work?

As a retired person, my first responsibilities are to my wife, and my family. My family is relatively small, it turns out, so I do have free time. I choose to read and to write, in that free time. Unlike many others, my writing time usually comes in the afternoon and evening, or even late at night. I write when I feel like writing. My only deadlines are monthly. I keep a rough plan, and I think about my writing, a lot, even when I am not writing. Much of my short writing projects, in particular, are composed in my mind, while doing other things, even lying in bed at night. If I try to force it, or meet imposed deadlines, it doesn't work. Otherwise, the stories flow from my characters, and their lives. I have more stories in my mind, for many of my characters, than I can possibly ever "write down" - much like real life. Most stories never get told. I accept the responsibility to write as many of them, as I physically can, in the time I have.


NOW, let's meet next week's featured author:

Terri O’Connell is a professional genealogist in the Chicago area, focusing on Midwestern United States Genealogy, with a main focus in Illinois and a special interest in Irish research. She is also the owner of Cruise Planners – O’Connell Cruise and Travel, a full service travel company. Their mission is to encompass the full family: vacations, reunions, and history travel. Terri is a travel enthusiast with a passion for genealogy and enjoys bringing the two together to assist her clients in their travel needs. You can find Terri online at, Terri is the Executive Director of The In-Depth Genealogist,

Blog Hop History
This particular blog hop started in April 2014 by Ellen Barone on The Internal Traveler. If you follow the links backwards you will see a wide variety of writing genres represented. If you Google "Blog Hop Ellen Barone" you can see a sampling of what I am talking about. Also, you can read the post by Shannon Combs Bennett that got Michelle involved and the other writers she featured there, as well!! ;-)

[Simultaneously published at Dr. Bill's Book Bazaar and Dr. Bill Tells Ancestry Stories.]

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 30, 2014

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Clouds of Glory

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Clouds of Glory

Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee
by Michael Korda

This post is the eighty-first entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This book was a gift from my daughter, Allison King. I've been wanting to read it. Thanks!

Book Description from Amazon:

In Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee, Michael Korda, the New York Times bestselling biographer of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ulysses S. Grant, and T. E. Lawrence, has written the first major biography of Lee in nearly twenty years, bringing to life America's greatest and most iconic hero. Korda paints a vivid and admiring portrait of Lee as a general and a devoted family man who, though he disliked slavery and was not in favor of secession, turned down command of the Union army in 1861 because he could not "draw his sword" against his own children, his neighbors, and his beloved Virginia. He was surely America's preeminent military leader, as calm, dignified, and commanding a presence in defeat as he was in victory. Lee's reputation has only grown in the 150 years since the Civil War, and Korda covers in groundbreaking detail all of Lee's battles and traces the making of a great man's undeniable reputation on both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line, positioning him finally as the symbolic martyr-hero of the Southern Cause.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's Monday, What are You Reading? The Men Who Lost America

It's Monday, What are You Reading?
The Men Who Lost America
Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy

This post is the eightith entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This Kindle book was purchased with a gift certificate from my daughter, Arrion Rathsack. Thanks!

Book Description from Amazon:

The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.

In interlinked biographical chapters, the author follows the course of the war from the perspectives of King George III, Prime Minister Lord North, military leaders including General Burgoyne, the Earl of Sandwich, and others who, for the most part, led ably and even brilliantly. Victories were frequent, and in fact the British conquered every American city at some stage of the Revolutionary War. Yet roiling political complexities at home, combined with the fervency of the fighting Americans, proved fatal to the British war effort. The book concludes with a penetrating assessment of the years after Yorktown, when the British achieved victories against the French and Spanish, thereby keeping intact what remained of the British Empire.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Monday, June 16, 2014

It's Monday, What are You Reading? Louisa Catherine, The Other Mrs. Adams

It's Monday, What are You Reading?
Louisa Catherine, The Other Mrs. Adams

Louisa Catherine, The Other Mrs. Adams
by Margery M. Heffron, Edited by David L. Michelmore

This post is the seventy-nineth entry for this meme suggested by Sheila@ One Persons Journey Through A World of Books. [Entries 22-25 in the series were posted at  the Dr. Bill Tells Ancestor Stories]

This book was a gift from my daughter, Annette Lamb. I've been wanting to read it. Thanks!

Book Description from Amazon:

Louisa Catherine Johnson Adams, wife and political partner of John Quincy Adams, became one of the most widely known women in America when her husband assumed office as sixth president in 1825. Shrewd, intellectual, and articulate, she was close to the center of American power over many decades, and extensive archives reveal her as an unparalleled observer of the politics, personalities, and issues of her day. Louisa left behind a trove of journals, essays, letters, and other writings, yet no biographer has mined these riches until now. Margery Heffron brings Louisa out of the shadows at last to offer the first full and nuanced portrait of an extraordinary first lady.

The book begins with Louisa’s early life in London and Nantes, France, then details her excruciatingly awkward courtship and engagement to John Quincy, her famous diplomatic success in tsarist Russia, her life as a mother, years abroad as the wife of a distinguished diplomat, and finally the Washington, D.C., era when, as a legendary hostess, she made no small contribution to her husband’s successful bid for the White House. Louisa’s sharp insights as a tireless recorder provide a fresh view of early American democratic society, presidential politics and elections, and indeed every important political and social issue of her time.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Book Review: Spies, Patriots, and Traitors

Book Review of:
Spies, Patriots, and Traitors: 
American Intelligence in the Revolutionary War
by Kenneth A. Daigler

 I read this book because I have read many books on the Revolutionary War era and each new one adds a new perspective or different angle on particular events or the activities of certain participants. This book by an experienced intelligence officer did that job very well. I had read a book focused on George Washington's intelligence operations in New York City, so it was especially interesting to see how Daigler reported on many of those same activities. His distinctive approach did add much to my understanding of those activities.

This book relies on both primary and secondary sources and does not purport to be a heavy academic treatment of the subject. Rather, it is a very readable overview of the subject and does this very well. For the reader who needs the summaries of military operations related to certain places and events, he provides that without burdening the narrative unnecessarily. While I would also like to have seen more details on certain operations, he saved that for future writings so as not to bog down his overview.

I highly recommend this book for readers already generally familiar with the war but interested in learning more, from this particular perspective. I hope this includes many readers.

*****This review was originally written for the LibraryThing Early Reviewer program. I received an Advanced Readers copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Happy Reading!

Dr. Bill  ;-)