Review & Contest: Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers


Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers
Release Date: February 1, 2015
Publisher: Camel Press
Pages: 292
Source: book provided by Tribute Books for review



Would life have been different for Johnnie if she’d been named after a woman rather than her dead uncle? Or if her mama hadn’t been quite so beautiful or flighty? The grandparents who raised her were loving, but they didn’t understand the turmoil roiling within her. And they had so many, many secrets.

Why did her mama leave? Would she ever return? How did her Uncle Johnny really die? Who was her father? Now Johnnie Kitchen is a 43-year-old woman with three beautiful children, two of them grown. She has a handsome, hardworking husband who adores her, and they live in the historic North Texas town of Portion in a charming bungalow. But she never finished college and her only creative outlet is a journal of letters addressed to both the living and the dead. Although she has conquered the bulimia that almost killed her, Johnnie can never let down her guard, lest the old demons return. Or perhaps they never went away to begin with. For Johnnie has secrets of her own, and her worst fear is that the life she’s always wanted–the one where she gets to pursue her own dreams–will never begin.

Not until her ghosts reveal themselves.


Review:  This started out as a slow read but picked up speed once most of the characters were introduced.  The book was set in Texas and there were a lot of family secrets and heartache.  Johnnie, who seems to have it all with a loving husband and three children, has had a life filled with suffering.  Never knowing her father or who he even is left a hole.  Her uncle died but her grandparents never spoke of him and her mom ran away when she was young so her grandparents raised her.  Her beloved grandfather died which also left her with pain.  Her grandmother is a huge part of this story as well as her elusive mom who is sighted more than once around town.  Add to this that Johnnie suffered from bulimia and still has flashbacks and it all helped to shape her to who she is.

Not only does her family have secrets but we find out that she does too and it rocks her world when it’s revealed.  The family dynamics seem strong but there is always undercurrents of unhappiness and doubt.  Her husband Dale is always supportive and provides a good living but her unhappiness that she didn’t go to college is always there as is her years of her illness.  When she upends his world it takes a lot to make them and their family a unit again.  There’s always a blackness and turmoil roiling through Johnnie and she writes letters to different people, living and dead, to help her heal.  Many were heartbreaking and really showed us where she was at.

There were family, including their dog, and friends, including her best friend, Whit, the military, secrets, lies, truths, anger, sadness, fears, tears, Mr. Marvel their eccentric neighbor, happiness, laughter, family dynamics and throughout love shown in different ways based on the relationship.  The characters are multifaceted and we get to know them little by little.  There are a few twists and turns to the storyline but Johnnie is always at the core.  The dock and the lake along with birds play a prominent role in the story as does the Soldier statue.  It was sometimes confusing to have the story go back and forth between the past and present but for the most part it worked and the prologue set in 1979 in the form of a letter helped set the stage and the book spanned almost thirty years.  There were a few loose ends that weren’t tied up by the end of the story but there was some closure even though the book ended a little abruptly.

I was happy to see that there will be a sequel, Seven Wings to Glory, and I look forward to reading it.  Her first book, The Final Salute, has been added to my always growing TBR pile.

Favorite Quote: Johnnie spoke first. “There’s been so much information withheld from me all my life. Then I went and did the same thing to Dale. But my biggest concern now is to take care of my family.  Make things right again.”







Author Bio

Author Kathleen M. Rodgers with her resucue dog, DentonAward-winning author Kathleen M. Rodgers is a former frequent contributor to Family Circle magazine and Military Times. Her work has also appeared in anthologies published by McGraw-Hill, University of Nebraska Press/Potomac Books, Health Communications, Inc., AMG Publishers, and Press 53. She is the author of the award-winning novel, The Final Salute, featured in USA Today, The Associated Press, and Military Times. Deer Hawk Publications reissued the novel in e-book and paperback September of 2014.

Her second novel, Johnnie Come Lately, released from Camel Press February 1, 2015. Barnes & Noble in Southlake, TX hosted the official launch on February 7, and Kathleen signed copies of both novels for three hours straight. In 2014, she was named a Distinguished Alumna from Tarrant County College/NE Campus.

She is the mother of two grown sons, Thomas, a graduate of University of North Texas and a working artist in Denton, TX, and J.P., a graduate of Texas Tech University and a former Army officer who earned a Bronze Star in 2014 in Afghanistan. Kathleen’s husband, Tom, is a retired fighter pilot/commercial airline pilot, and they reside in Colleyville, TX with their rescue dog, Denton. Kathleen is working on a new novel titled Seven Wings to Glory and is represented by Loiacono Literary Agency.

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15 thoughts on “Review & Contest: Johnnie Come Lately by Kathleen M. Rodgers

  1. JoAnne says:

    Johnnie Come Lately caught my interest because it was a well written women’s fiction that held plenty of secrets but had family at its core. It was an enjoyable read for me.

  2. Laney4 says:

    So many things caught my interest because they seemed to be calling out to me.
    1) Johnnie is not a typical female name and it would be awkward, to say the least, having that as your name. I go by my second name, and it is also awkward at the best of times.
    2) Grandparents raised her. My own parents were in their forties when I was born, so I definitely felt like my grandparents were raising me (as my four “real” grandparents were dead long before I was born).
    3) Questionable parentage in book. I was 39 when I learned that my dad was in fact not my bio dad, but the man across the street was instead (confirmed by his various relatives as well). My own parents were long dad, as was the neighbour, but there was no question in my mind that that man was indeed my father (as well as my brother’s, and my brother is five years my elder – but he was not the father of my sister ten years my elder or my other sister fifteen years older than I). Convoluted story, but I believe it nonetheless.
    4) Both of us have a hardworking husband who adores us. YES!

    • Dear Laney4:

      Thank you for taking time from your day to read JoAnne’s thoughtful review of my second novel, Johnnie Come Lately.
      It appears that you and Johnnie Kitchen have certain things in common. I would love to have you read the story and send me feedback. Part of my job as a writer is to write stories with healing power and this is what I hope I’ve given back to the reader.

      BTW, I just told JoAnne that JCL is a WINNER for Best Covers Contest from Southern Writers Magazine. My agent just posted this glorious announcement: Dear JoAnne,

      Thank you for being part of the “Johnnie team.” I’m so honored to have your outstanding review as part of the Tribute Books Blog Tour. I’ll share away. I am indeed working on the sequel now. My agent and publisher want to see something by early fall so I must get busy. LOL. Again, many thanks for inviting Johnnie and her family into your heart.
      Take care,

      PS: Just received notice yesterday that Johnnie Come Lately is a WINNER for Best Covers from Southern Writers Magazine. My agent posted the award on her website:

    • Laney4,

      I apologize for accidentally reposting part of my response to JoAnne in my message to you. Don’t know how that happened. I tried to go back and edit but didn’t see an edit button. Again, so sorry about that.


    • Hi Rita,

      Thanks for reading the review and posting your comment. I do hope you will
      give Johnnie Come Lately a try. The novel was six years in the making.

      Take care,


  3. BerkeleyHapa says:

    Sounds like an intense book about a strong women’s journey to discover her past and how it impacts her present.

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