How to find a Read-A-Like

Dear Fellow Journalers,

If you read series books, I have mentioned my favorites in the past (Murder She Wrote, Cosy Mystery series from Joanne Fluke and Miranda James) when you’re either waiting for the author’s next book or just wanting to find a read-a-like, where do you find it?  This article from the Cheshire Library Blog may help you.


New post on The Cheshire Library Blog

How to Find a Read-alike by Mary

If you are like me, when I find a series I love I burn through it in record time and then am left mourning that I have finished the series. Finding a new series can be difficult, so invariably I turn to NoveList for help.

NoveList is an online database that offers recommended reading lists. You can sort by age and genre and even by topics such as “fast-paced and amusing” or “moving and haunting” and even “snarky and compelling”. However my favorite part of NoveList is the Read-alike links.

If you type in a book title or author, NoveList will produce a list of results that include three very handy links: Title Read-alikes, Author Read-Alikes and Series Read-alikes.

What is a Read-alike?

A read-alike is a book, author, or series that shares some of the basic characteristics of another book, author, or series. It means that if you enjoy, say, author Marcia Muller, you may also like books by Laurie R. King, Kate Wilhelm, or Iain Pears,

For example, type in Lord Peter Wimsey (one of my favorite British mystery sleuths), click on Series Read-alikes, and you will get a list of recommendations that include the Phryne Fisher mysteries by Kerry Greenwood (stories that have also been turned into a wonderful BBC drama: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) and the Adam Dalgliesh mysteries by P.D. James, among many others.

Bingo! Two more series just waiting to be devoured.

Try NoveList. It works!

Virtual Travel Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

A travel journal, a Virtual Travel Journal helps you record your journey to another state. There are, of course, no packing tips, admission fees, or maps. About the only thing that you need is a laptop and the internet. Here are some museums that I checked out during Covid.


Phrase Journal

Dear Fellow Journalers,

One of the most read posts on my craft blog, is “sentiments.” I try and sift through the billions of greetings a crafter can use when creating a greeting card. A phrase journal works much the same way. You highlight or write down a phrase or group of words with the source material. Here are some examples from my journal:

“You can’t lie to someone you love and you can’t love someone you lie to.” The Return by Nicholas Sparks

“…..limitless room in his heart for sheltered souls”. Nicholas Sparks The Return

“…had she ever thought about me in the last couple of weeks, or had I already become a half remembered memory, colored with regret.”. Same as above.

“achingly beautiful day.” The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice

“…I came here full of fear. I felt like I was alone in a blizzard and had to find shelter from the consequences of my mistakes.” Embrace the Wind by Susan Dennng

“If one has a book, Mr. Boone, one is never alone. They will talk to you and when you want to listen, and when you tire of what they are saying you just close the book.” The Cherokee Trail Louis lamour

“….His eyes were filled with questions she was too exhausted to answer.” The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

“When do promises come with an expiration date?” The Revolving Heart by Chuck Aiello

“Love is the only thing that we can carry with us when we go, and it makes the end so easy.” The Bridge by Karen Kingsbury

“The past is a lesson, not a sentence.” The Mistletoe Secret by Richard Paul Evans

“…He knew the voice. It matched the smile on the man’s face. The smile that kept him sane all these months. The light in these blue eyes that was the beacon that always welcomed him home.”. Mister by MustangSallie (me!)

God Bless America

Dear Fellow Journalers,

Ever wondered about this song and how it came to be written? I did. Enjoy and while you enjoy your picnics, barbecues and fireworks, remember why we celebrate.


God Bless America — The Story Behind The Song
Posted: 02 Jul 2021 10:50 AM PDT
The story below is reprinted from The Kennedy Center website:

This is the story behind “God Bless America.” This simple one-verse song became an overnight hit, and a hopeful song as war threatened. “It’s not a patriotic song,” composer Irving Berlin said in a 1940 interview, “but an expression of gratitude for what this country has done for its citizens, of what home really means.” Today, many Americans consider “God Bless America” an unofficial national anthem of the United States.

The life of Irving Berlin is a uniquely American success story. He was born Israel Baline in the Jewish village of Tyumen, in a harsh region of Russia known as Siberia. When he was about five, an anti-Jewish mob destroyed his family’s home, and the Balines set out for America. They settled on New York’s Lower East Side.

Irving Berlin’s father died when he was eight, and “Izzy” went to work selling newspapers to help support his family. As a young teen, he began singing in saloons and at some point taught himself piano. He began copying the musical styles of the day, and developed an incredible instinct for creating popular tunes that people loved to sing. A printing error on a published piece of sheet music left him with the name Irving Berlin, and that was the name he carried as he wrote song after song. In 1911, he wrote his first huge dance hit, “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.”

After that, Berlin’s career took off like a rocket. He wrote stage musicals and film scores, and produced hit after hit. Many are still sung today, including: “White Christmas,” “Blue Skies,” “Always,” “There’s No Business Like Show Business,” “Heat Wave,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm,”—and “God Bless America.”

When describing his goal as a songwriter, Berlin said: “My ambition is to reach the heart of the average American…that vast intermediate crew which is the real soul of the country….My public is the real people.”

Kate Smith, one of the great singers of her day, had asked for a new number for her radio show. The year was 1938, and she was looking for something fresh to mark the 20th anniversary of the end of the Great War, what would later be called World War I. Irving Berlin had composer’s block.

Berlin felt the urgency to deliver. He had recently returned from Europe, where catastrophe was brewing. Nazi Germany, led by Adolf Hitler, was growing more powerful and aggressive and seemed to be preparing for war. But Berlin wasn’t focused on writing a get-America-ready-for-war song. He wanted to create something to celebrate America as a special place to live.

Then he remembered a song he had drafted years earlier. He pulled out an old trunk and dusted off the 20-year-old manuscript.

Reviving and Revising a Forgotten Song

In 1918, Sergeant Irving Berlin was stationed at Camp Upton in Yaphank, on Long Island, New York. Berlin was already a successful songwriter, now a draftee, and his commanding officer enlisted him to write a musical revue to help raise money for a new building. The result was Yip, Yip, Yaphank, a light-hearted musical revue about army life featuring music, skits, and military drills. The show produced one of the hits of World War I, “Oh! How I Hate to Get Up in the Morning,” a comic song about a soldier’s reluctance to answer reveille, the army’s early AM alarm clock played on a bugle.

Berlin had written another song for the revue, but had cut it from the show. He thought the lyrics were too sappy. So “God Bless America” waited in that trunk for two decades.

Then Kate Smith came calling. Now, Berlin looked over his earlier work and rapidly began rewriting and revising. He had less than two weeks to get it ready for her performance.

Here is how the 1918 version had read:
God Bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her
And guide her
To the right with the light from above
Make her victorious on land and foam
God Bless America, my home sweet home.

Berlin knew he had to change the line To the right with the light from above. “The Right” in politics had come to mean conservative political groups. He wanted a song that brought Americans together, not set Americans apart. And he changed Make her victorious…since it suggested military conquest, rather than the “peace song” he was shooting for.

The result was the song most American school kids have learned by heart ever since.

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains,
To the prairies,
To the ocean white with foam
God bless America,
My home sweet home.

Smith sang the song as the show-closer on her live national broadcast that night. Berlin’s phone immediately began ringing off the hook. Everyone wanted to know where they could get the music.

After that, Smith almost always included the song in her weekly show, and it became her trademark during a career that spanned five decades. She also added a short poem-prelude that Berlin had written:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in solemn prayer.

Storm clouds were indeed gathering over Europe. Less than a year after the debut of “God Bless America,” Germany’s war machine rolled into Poland, igniting World War II in Europe. (The Japanese had already invaded China two years earlier, beginning the war in Asia.) The United States would not officially join the war until the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. But as “God Bless America” grew in popularity, most Americans already feared that it was just a matter of time before the U.S. would be called to fight.

During World War II, Berlin toured with his show This is the Army to raise money for the U.S. war effort. “God Bless America” was one of the featured songs.
The God Bless America Foundation

When it came to “God Bless America,” Irving Berlin and Kate Smith put their money where their mouths were. They donated all the royalties from the hit song to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America through the God Bless America Foundation. That arrangement is still in effect today.

Other wartime songs would remind Americans what they were fighting against. Berlin’s “God Bless America” reminded them of what they were fighting for.
— end of the article.
I hope you found this as interesting as I did.
Tom CorreaAmerican Cowboy Chronicles

Kindness changes everythingeverything

Dear Fellow Journalers,

I can’t add anything to this story – just read it!


The Seven Social Sins

“The Seven Social Sins are:

  1. Wealth without work.
  2. Pleasure without conscience.
  3. Knowledge without character.
  4. Commerce without morality.
  5. Science without humanity.
  6. Worship without sacrifice.
  7. Politics without Principle. “

Fredrick Lewis Donaldson. 3/20/1925

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