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Dakota Blues

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  325 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
In this award-winning debut novel, workaholic Karen Grace is fired after attending her mother's funeral in her Midwestern hometown. Now Karen is fifteen hundred miles from home, just one more middle-aged worker out of a job in a tough economy. To make matters worse, her husband recently left her for his pregnant girlfriend.

At a crossroads, Karen must find the courage to c
Paperback, 306 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by CreateSpace Indie Publishing Platform (first published July 12th 2012)
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Sep 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
While attending her mother’s funeral in her North Dakota childhood hometown 50 year old Karen Grace is facing some interminable changes in her otherwise carefully mapped out life, her marriage is falling apart and her highly stressful job of many years is in question, when she misses her flight home she decides to take a small break and get to know the family that remains and the friends she left behind. This impromptu visit causes a domino effect of actions and reactions in Karen’s life so when ...more
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2012
Recently I've adjusted to the shock, trauma, and relief of relinquishing a professional title that--looking back--I realize I worked too hard to achieve. My reflections over the past year have been similar to those of the protagonist in Lynne Spreen's terrific book, "Dakota Blues." In frank, honest terms, she tells the story of a bright and interesting woman, Karen Grace, often in scenes I recognize from my own current life. Her experiences are very real....

I remember as an adolescent finding co
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Karen Grace is called back to North Dakota by her mother's death. A successful human resources executive, Karen bears the burden of a husband who has left her for a younger, pregnant lover, a high-pressure job, and the onset of menopause, in addition to the death of her mother. She is in every respect a woman at the crossroads of her life.

Early in the book, I wondered where the author was taking me. Since the writing was so intense, fresh, and on-point, I willingly went along for the ride. In t
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
Workaholic Karen Grace is fired after attending her mother’s funeral in her Midwestern hometown. Now Karen is fifteen hundred miles from home, just one more middle-aged worker out of a job in a tough economy. To make matters worse, her husband recently left her for his pregnant girlfriend.

At a crossroads, Karen must find the courage to change her life. Needing time to think, she agrees to take an elderly neighbor on one last road trip, but on a deserted highway in Wyoming, Karen is forced to mak
Aug 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“What would it feel like to be one of only three people left in your family that had shared such a life… What happened to the memories when you died, but more than that, what happened to the lessons learned, the maturation a person gained from living through such hard times?”
Karen speculates about this after going through a family album with her Aunt Marie. I would hope for the ancestor’s sake one of the three would be Lynne Spreen. By the time I reached this part of her wonderful novel, I felt
Linda Hoye
Sep 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I couldn't put this one down. It is a well told story of a woman-of-certain-age experiencing a personal crisis that brings her back home but also one that had me reflecting on choices I've made in my own life. Dakota Blues took me back to my own prairie home in Saskatchewan where I walked the dusty streets of the small town and felt the embrace of relatives I've long since forgotten about. I found myself cheering the heroine on as she took a journey that enabled her to come to the place of appre ...more
Florence Osmund
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
On the positive side, this book was very well written with respect to sentence structure, grammar, flow, and style. There was excellent character development, and the author’s descriptions of the physical surroundings were so realistic, I felt like I was there. Technically, in my opinion, Lynne Spreen is a very good writer.

On the negative side, nothing happened of any consequence until halfway into the book--up until then, it was all backstory and set up. Throughout the book, there were several
C.L. Hoang
Mar 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A Wonderful Coming-of-Age (Golden Age)Story. Full of vim and vigor and insightful humor crafted in lyrical yet intimate prose, Dakota Blues takes one back to one's true roots, where family and friends provide the necessary grounding that carries one through life's ups and downs. The road trip is a total blast, peppered with delightful and heartbreaking surprises that make the reader laugh and cry, wishing it would never end. An absolute Must Read.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I thought the plot was unconventional but it kept me engaged even though part of my brain was trying to figure out where the plot was going. What kind of a book is this? I pride myself in identifying the publisher's marketing/genres of books. Once you know the category/genre, you know what to expect, and what book to read next. however, this book doesn't cater to any category. It felt like a romance novel, but there was no central focus on the romantic happy ever after. It felt like a memoir bec ...more
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through a GoodReads First Reads giveaway from the author, Lynne Spreen. Thank you!

I had a hard time getting into the beginning of this book but after getting to the "meat" of the book I couldn't put it down. This novel was definitely not super fast paced or action packed but rather heartwarming and loving, a journey where a woman changes herself before it is too late.

I don't really think the description of this book actually described it. When I first read the back, I felt like i
Sandra Nachlinger
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
DAKOTA BLUES by Lynne M. Spreen is my favorite kind of story, one in which the protagonist is someone I’d like to have as a friend. She seems real, her problems are believable, and she faces life in a realistic and completely understandable way (without magic or supernatural powers). The story of Karen Grace comes to life on the pages.

Fifty-year-old, high-powered executive Karen faces three life-changing crises. When her mother dies, she must leave California and return to her rural hometown in
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
OK I will confess right up front: I am a baby-boomer and I happen to enjoy (love) reading books about "mature" people who hit a rough patch in the road of life and are forced to make a detour -- all the while finding wisdom and strength along the way. In fact it should be a genre: mature-people-hit-rough-patch-in-life-then-change-and-grow books.

Karen, the workaholic main character, is forced into several changes in her life (ending a marriage, changing a career, losing a loved one) and she begi
Beth Carpenter
Oct 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
At the beginning of this book, Karen is (figuratively) running like mad on a treadmill where someone keeps turning up the speed. She’s convinced that if she ever takes a break or even slows down, everything will fall apart. But it’s not long before things begin to go wrong anyway, and for the first time in a long time, Karen had to take the time to think about out what happens next.

This is a lovely story, moving along at a leisurely pace, so that I was able to feel and grow along with Karen. The
Jim Misko
Dec 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
Lynne Spreen looks at mid-life from the standpoint of a woman who was born and raised in the middle of our country. She goes back to Dakota to resolve issues of family and self-awareness in such a moving and thoughtful way. While not a genre I generally read, I was interested because I know Lynne and admire her as a person with humor and integrity and intelligence. Now, for an octogenarian male to read, digest, and enjoy a story about a woman in mid-life crisis, is praise enough. I will read it ...more
P Karr
Oct 27, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: drama
The title seemed to be a typical of a Mills and Boon or Harlequin romance. But the book was anything but. Although Dakota Blues will make you smile a bit, it is more likely to make you cry or tear up, reading about the bittersweet moments we all encounter in life, and the choices we make.

A Million Kindle Books
Feb 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Karen is middle-aged,overburdened with family obligations and suddenly abandoned by all.I almost didn't get through this book, it just hit too close to home and I am amazed that a work of fiction can so closely parallel my own insignificant life.A great read for anyone who has spent their entire lives in the service of others.
Rose Beyke
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
As a woman in my 50s I very much appreciated this read and the message. Younger women should read it and learn to slow down and enjoy life.
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
At 50, it all came crashing down on Karen Grace, a successful human resources executive for a struggling health care corporation Her marriage was on the rocks, her mother had died suddenly, and her boss was a cost-cutting tyrant, lacking any empathy for her HR role.

With her plate overflowing at work and her husband taking steps to force her from their home, Karen reluctantly travels from southern California to Dickinson, North Dakota to attend her mother’s funeral and settle her affairs. The sma
Mary Krueger
Dec 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
What a fantastic read!! I've been meaning to read this and was thrilled when I saw it on, thank you for that.

I must admit it took me awhile to feel connected or even like the protagonist Karen, mostly because I'm so different than she is.
Karen is simply a good girl who works hard to please everyone else and has done so for years until she finds herself fifty, getting divorced, dealing with her mother's death, and then out of a job.

I didn't really start to like Karen until I saw som
Diane Lybbert
Mar 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this story. Karen is a 50-yr-old workaholic, deep in the rat race of job, commute, sleep a little, and begin again. Just as her marriage is failing because hubby found a younger model, she gets a call that her mother has died in South Dakota. Her boss agrees to let her take 2 days, then come back to work even harder to catch up. Her plan is to fly to her childhood home, attend the funeral, jump back on a plane. As it turns out, it's much longer than that before she goes back. Sh ...more
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the storyline and the characters, especially Frieda. I appreciated the portrayal of Karen's internal struggles; these are very real issues that readers of all ages can relate.

Ms. Spreen uses literary tools that leave a richer impression on the reader. I especially liked her descriptions, her use of metaphors, and her grasp of strong verbs and imagery.

The middle parts were a bit slow. Nonetheless, I got a better sense of the main character through those sections.

I appreciated the spir
Pat Mckinzie-lechault
Aug 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fast-reads
For the lyrical quality of writing alone, Dakota Blues is a compelling read for any age, but it is a must read for women at the crossroads of midlife during that challenging shift of roles between caretaking of children to looking after aging parents. On a soul-searching road trip a strong protagonist, Karen Grace, leaves her high-powered, fast-paced cooperate city career and returns to her roots in the small town of her childhood and rediscovers herself along the way in an unforgettable road tr ...more
Betty Austin
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book

Awesome book

This is a wonderful book which I originally chose because it was based in western North Dakota. However it is one of the best books I have ever read.

I originally chose this book because it was set in southwestern North Dakota. It has a great message and is one of the best books I have read for a long time. I was sorry to see it end.
Diana Donnelly
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a great story. It's about a 50 year old workaholic whose marriage has fallen apart and whose mother has passed away. She presently resides in CA but was raised in N.D. On hearing of her mother's passing she makes plans to return and care for things. People at her office are being fired and replaced by younger workers. Having a position in the company she does not expect her job to be in jeopardy. Author did a wonderful job with this book.

Judy Scognamillo
Oct 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Being from North Dakota the title and the cover picture immediately drew me in. And then I started reading and I was hooked. The author has such a way with words that It didn't take long before I felt I was living the story. And when you find yourself thinking and talking like the main character in a book, you know it is good. This book I will read over and over again. Bravo to the author for a quality piece of writing.
Jo Ann
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
I read much of this on an airplane, and ended up tearing up over and over again...I'm sure it's where I am in life, and struggling, like the main character, to balance life, enjoy the simple pleasures, move from the hectic pace of life. When she returned to her family home, I imagined myself returning to mine and the rich history and beauty of nature and simple things, lovely people and family. Even though it touched me deeply, it's also a fun, galavanting, ride!
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book, but a lot of the scenes moved too quickly for me; I wanted more from them and from the characters. In the end, though, I liked the storyline and can relate on several levels. I think it still gives enough to inspire the reader.
Sep 30, 2013 rated it liked it
It was like a different book from beginning to end to me. I kinda got stuck in the middle but it picked up. Easy read with good writing and even seemed like a real story to me which the woman takes care of herself, I liked it.
Oct 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book, a recommendation of a North Dakota Facebook page. But it kept my interest and also provided some great philosophies on living, especially after the age of 50. A terrific read all around!
Nov 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
Had this book for awhile and finally needed a book where it was in the bookshelf and grabbed it. Enjoyed the mature main character and she was still sexy and attractive! Was a quick read and had a lesson for all to smell the roses in life.
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Audiobooks: Free Reviewer Copies: Dakota Blues 1 18 Sep 25, 2014 04:51AM  
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Where are the stories about women over 50? That's what I want to read, so that's what I write. My first two books, Dakota Blues, which won an award, and Key Largo Blues, feature Karen Grace, whose life fell apart at age 50. Goodbye to the Blues, Book 3 in the series, picks up the story lines of the beloved supporting cast. Any of the Blues Books can be read as stand-alones.

I also wrote Midd
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“mentor, Michele Scott, my editors Jennifer Meeghan and Wendy Duren, and my cover artist Damon at for the professional boost I needed. To all my Hemet and Palm Desert friends who cheered me on without hesitation: the Wolfe Pack, Palm Springs” 0 likes
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