Happy Wednesday! You are half way through the week! To reward you for your efforts, I have a fun and entertaining read that is sure to get you laughing! Be sure to stick around for the giveaway! I have author Carolyn Brown here today with her newest book: The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee. Here is a bit more about Carolyn:
Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and a RITA finalist. Her books include historical, contemporary, cowboys and country music mass market paperbacks. The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee is her debut woman’s fiction book. Born in Texas and raised in Oklahoma, she refers to herself as a Tex-Okie. She and her husband live in Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children and enough grandchildren to keep them young. Find Carolyn on her website, Facebook, and Goodreads.
Welcome to Cadillac, Texas! And thank you for inviting me and Agnes to stop by your site to invite y’all to The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee. Oh, Agnes, would you look at the refreshment table. They’ve got your favorite chocolate cake and pecan tarts. Give her just a minute, folks, to load up a plate full and then we’ll ask her a few questions. Okay, she’s ready and when Agnes says she’s ready, we’ve learned not to tarry.
Carolyn: Just how long has this Jubilee been going on, Miz Agnes?
Agnes: It all started more than forty years ago. My sweet sister figured out a way to grow jalapeño peppers in her little garden out beside her house that were hotter’n seven kinds of hell. That year the Grayson County women just flat out whooped the crap out of the Fannin County women at the Texas State Fair for their pepper entries and they brought home every single blue ribbon in the competition. Folks said that old Idalou over in Fannin County died of a broken heart when she didn’t get a single ribbon that year. But way I figure it is she hadn’t died that year she sure would have the next year or the next forty because my sister’s peppers were the hottest things in the whole state and they just kept on winnin’ them blue ribbons.
Carolyn: But what about the Jubilee?
Agnes (giving Carolyn a dirty look): I’m gettin’ to it. Don’t rush me. Violet Prescott, bless her heart, decided to form a club that year that they won the first ribbons. She and the mayor’s wife got into it about whether it was to be a society or a club and the mayor’s wife won the vote so it was a society. But the whole bunch of them called it a club anyway and they had a big jubilee that fall to celebrate winnin’ all the ribbons. First year wasn’t so big but it got bigger and bigger, let me tell you. For a while we even had a Pepper Queen. We still have a parade, a carnival and a dance and it’s always a hoot.
Carolyn: Were you ever a member of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeño Society?
Agnes: Hell, no! Violet Prescott saw to it that I wasn’t ever voted into the club. I wanted to be in it just so I could tear it apart at the seams. I never did like that prissy Violet Prescott.
Carolyn: Why didn’t you and Violet get along?
Agnes (cutting her eyes around at Carolyn): To start with she’s a bitch, bless her heart. And to end with she and I’ve been feudin’ for more than sixty years and I don’t expect we’ll quit until one of us in the grave. The rest you can learn if you read The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee. Carolyn says I can’t give away any spoilers or I’d tell you the whole story.
Carolyn: Okay, okay, could you tell us a little bit about the three friends who own and operate Miss Clawdy’s Café right across the street from where you live?
Agnes (fluffing her red hair): Cathy is my favorite. She’s always been my favorite of the twins. She’s sweet natured but here lately I’ve been wishin’ she’d got a touch of her sister’s wildness. That Marty, lord have mercy, is wild as a March Hare and she loves her sexy cowboys. But Cathy has gone and let that Violet Prescott’s wimpy son, Ethan, talk her into marrying him. It ain’t goin’ to happen. I’m eighty years old and I don’t mind spending the last of my life in prison for murderin’ that pansy assed wannabe politician. I hear they get pretty good television reception in there so it’s no big deal and I’ll do it if she don’t break the engagement off. Then there’s Trixie, their friend who is divorced (Agnes whispers this word). I told them it was a bad idea to let her buy into the business but Marty won’t listen to a damn word I say. And across the street to the east from them is Darla Jean. She’s a former hooker who has turned herself into a preacher. I keep tellin’ her that God ain’t goin’ to let no hooker into heaven even if she memorizes every damn verse in the Good Book. Oh, and their other friend, Jack Landry. Thank God he didn’t get none of his mama’s meddlin’ genes. Beulah has been good to me and nominated me every time there was an openin’ in the club but she sure is a gossip.
Carolyn: One more question, Agnes. You talk about an opening in the club? What does that mean?
Agnes: The Jalapeño Club was set up in the beginning to only have 20 members. Someone has to die or move before anyone else can be in it. I’ve been nominated lots of times but so far Violet, I’m through blessin’ her heart so damn her sorry old ass, has kept me out.
Carolyn: I said it was just one more but now you’ve got everyone’s curiosity piqued. Why only 20 members?
Agnes: Because that’s how many of them ugly club pins that Violet bought in the beginning and they never could buy no more. They really bought 21 just in case Violet lost hers and when the twins were invited they used that twenty first one. So there was 21 members when Carolyn wrote the book. First thing I intended to do if I ever got in the club was lose mine just to rile Violet up real good.
Carolyn: Thank you Agnes for answering questions and to all y’all here at Rainy Day Ramblings for inviting us to stop by. Now wouldn’t y’all like to get to know everyone in Cadillac better?
Thanks so much, Carolyn and Agnes for stopping by and filling us in on Cadillac! You two did forget to mention one of the best things about the town and that is the delicious Southern style home cooked food at Ms. Clawdy's from fried chicken and greens to pecan cobbler and pie. I would certainly like to eat there! Now since we can't actually eat the food, I am going to offer the next best thing... A book giveaway! Thanks to the wonderful folks over at Sourcebooks, I am able to offer a chance to win a copy of The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee. Just fill out the Rafflecopter to enter. This is for U.S. and Canadian residents only. Good Luck!a Rafflecopter giveaway
Here is my review:
The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society Jubilee by Carolyn Brown
Bestelling author Carolyn Brown makes her first foray into women's fiction with this poignant and hilarious novel about four friends in Cadillac, Texas—where the best jalapenos in the world are grown. Everything is calm in Cadillac, Texas until Aunt Agnes declares war on Violet Prescott, the president of the Blue-Ribbon Jalapeno Society, just in time for the annual jubilee. But after the festivities—and the hostilities—are over, it's four friends who are left standing, proving once again that friendship is forever.
Paperback, 336 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Sourcebooks Landmark
Four stars: A cozy book featuring characters that will make you chuckle!
For a small town like Cadillac, Texas, you would expect life to be quiet and simple. That is so not the case with this town. Despite its limited population, there are plenty of fireworks, especially thanks to the elderly, shoot gun toting Agnes. Agnes has been warring with the town queen bee, Violet, for decades. What ensues is hilarious mayhem as Agnes, her two nieces, Cathy and Marty, and their friends Trixie and Darla Jean, the former hooker turned town preacher, try to buck years of tradition and go against the uppity Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Society. This is an enduring story of friendship that can weather even the fiercest gossip storms. Stop by and have a hearty, home cooked Southern style meal at Clawdy's and hear the whole sordid story, I promise you will have a few laughs!
What I Liked:
- I always enjoy small town cozy books and this one was very funny. I liked that it had a more realistic feel as it dealt with gossip, which tends to run rampant in small communities, and many other issues such as: friendship, infidelity, Alzheimer's, domestic violence, betrayals and more. Sure there is plenty of warm and cozy in this one, but there is also a good hearty dose of real life, and I liked that it blended both as it gave a more realistic feel. If you are one who likes your cozy books to be all feel good, you might not be as big of a fan as this one because there is plenty of feuding and such that I found hilarious but if you want a strictly warm and fuzzy read, you might one want to skip this one.
- I absolutely adored the sharp tongued, say it like it is Agnes. At eight some years old, she is through with societal niceties especially when it comes to the almighty Violet. Agnes lets you know exactly what she thinks and I thought her dialogue was highly entertaining and witty. She is a saucy, smart old gal who speaks her mind. She is a bit crass and sacrilegious and all of that and I think that made me love her all the more. I especially like that way she struck back in defense of her niece and friends. You don't want to mess with Agnes. She has a shot gun and isn't afraid to use it!
- At the heart of this story are four women: Marty, Cathy, Trixie and Darla Jean. These four women are dealing with different aspects of life, but through it all they have a strong friendship which helps them weather the storm of life through the sunshine days and the storms. I absolutely loved getting to know these gals and by the end of the book I felt like they were old friends.
- I was pleased to find that this book had some breadth and depth to it as it dealt with some heart wrenching issues such as Trixie watching her mother disappear into Alzheimer's. It broke my heart to read about Trixie's mom and I can certainly tell that Ms. Brown knows a thing or two about this disease. I also liked the scenes where the women were able to help victims of domestic violence. It was nice to see women finding there way out of bad situations.
And The Not So Much:
- This book doesn't have a cohesive plot that follows through from beginning to end. It is more like a bundle of short stories as it relates the experiences and problems of the four women. Yes, the stories intersect but there isn't a strong main story that everything ties into.
- In the beginning, I had a bit of trouble keeping track of all the characters as the story jumped from one woman to the next. Once I was more familiar with each of the ladies it was a bit easier to keep track of everything, but it is a bit chaotic.
- While I enjoyed all the little subplots I was disappointed that there wasn't more development on a couple of the side stories. I wanted to see more in regards to Marty writing the erotic romance novels in secret and not knowing that her sister and friends were reading her books on the sly, and they had no idea that she was the author. This seemed like it was going to be a fun storyline but it is dropped and not developed. I was wanting more as far as the romance goes. The romance that ensues is quick to develop and glossed over, after all the hardship the character went through with her first relationship it was nice to see she found a better match, but I wanted to relish it unfolding instead of quickly jumping from point A to B. Finally, I was intrigued by Darla Jean and her past as a hooker. I really would like to have more history on her backstory.
- The ending was kind of a fizzle. There was all this dramatic buildup and conflict between Agnes and Violet and I was totally expecting Agnes to really stick it to Violet in the end, but it just kind of goes out quietly and Violet is still in charge. Granted, Agnes certainly puts her in her place a few times, but I wanted the mighty Violet to take a topple off her pedestal. The ending is a bit open, so I am hoping that is because there is going to be another book. I certainly enjoyed my time in Cadillac and I would very much like the story to continue.
The Blue Ribbon Jalapeño Jubilee Society was a fun read that kept me entertained. I liked that it also took the time to expose some deeper issues such as Alzheimer's and domestic violence, while maintaining a light cozy feel. I had plenty of laughs thanks to the wild and outspoken Agnes. If you are looking for an entertaining and fun book, I would highly recommend spending some time with the gals in Cadillac. I am crossing my fingers that a second book is in the works.
"Shoot!" she mumbled. She was right at the end of the novel that just came out by Candy Parker, and it was so hot that she actually felt the heat coming through her ereader."
"She had her ereader in her purse. She might just point her mother's old Chevy Lumina toward California and not stop driving until she hit water. There she'd live in her car and become a beach bum who picked up soda cans and redeemed them at the supermarket to make money to buy more erotic books."
"Hooker changed to preacher, my ass. You can't change a leopard's spots or think God is listening to you just because you make a cross on them big boobs."
"Just had a bang-up good time. Paybacks ain't bitches; they're wonderful."
"Aunt Agnes, didn't you listen to the preacher this morning?" "I always listen. Sometimes I don't agree."
"Some friends are in your life for a season. Some friends are in your life for a reason. Some are there forever to double your joys and halve your sorrows."
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this review.