Welcome to Guildbrook Farm

We live off the grid in the foothills of Appalachia and share with you all we know (and don’t know) about canning, cooking, critters, gardening, solar, building stuff, living debt free, and the journey to be self-sustainable. Click on a topic and get started!

3 Must-Read Historical Crime Books

3 Must-Read Historical Crime Books

It has been almost 2 years since we move to our off-grid homestead in the foothills of Appalachia. In the spirit of getting back in touch with nature and learning to be more self-sufficient; we purchased raw land that came with a small trailer and had every intention of immediately starting our off-grid house build.

That has’t happened yet.

Blame it on water issues, or taking time to get our solar system set up, being too remote, or trying to do it as inexpensively as possible…but we still haven’t broken ground yet. Things are starting to line up a little, but it isn’t fast enough when you are living in a tiny house! Sometimes it just feels like we aren’t making progress fast enough.

…and No Progress = Depression.

I am not one to dwell on negatives or problems. I want solutions. Since the solutions for the house bids are out of my control (sometimes you just have to wait for others to return your calls); I decided to create my own list of goals that WERE in my control.

One of my goals was to take the time to just read for fun.

These three books I chose because they had a little bit of homesteading coupled with a little bit of crime. Two of them are based on actual events.

This book is based on the true accounts of an Appalachian local named Tom Dooley who was accused of killing his lover, Laura Foster. He was tried, convicted and hung in Statesville, NC. But this story isn’t as straight-forward as it appears and mystery still surrounds who actually killed Laura Foster. I first heard of Tom Dooley after visiting a local history museum and jail where he was held prisoner. Our tour guide for the jail told of a man who returned from the Civil War to find his lover, Ann Melton had married another man. He then sought out a relationship with her cousin, Laura. Jealousy ensued and Laura ended up murdered. Author Sharyn McCrumb has an interesting twist based on her research as to what really happened to Laura. This is a must-read!


This is a story based on the true accounts of one of American’s most horrific crime scandals involving Georgia Tann; who was found guilty of kidnapping impoverished children and selling them to wealthy families all over the world in the late 1920’s to the early 1950’s. Benefactors of her services included actress Joan Crawford, NY Governor Herbert Lehman, and many others. This story is from the perspective of one family and portrays the crimes that Georgia inflicted on her victims and how she was able to do it for over 30 years. One of the most brilliant and heart-wrenching books I have ever read.


This is a fictional story of an impoverished girl named Kya who lives in the marsh of the North Carolina coast during the 1950’s and 60’s. Her and her brothers are abandoned by their mother at an early age and left to the abuse and neglect of their alcoholic father. Unable to cope with the abuse, her brothers leave and shortly thereafter, her father as well. Ridiculed, taunted and considered an outcast by locals; Kya must learn to survive on her own. Eventually, she gets entangled and accused of the murder of a local boy. I found at times the characters and ensuing situations to be a bit far-fetched and because of that, this was my least favorite crime book of the three; but still worth a read if you can get your hands on it.


I have quite a few other books I have been reading so look for those reviews to come out soon.

The Wake Up Call (Part 1)

The Wake Up Call (Part 1)

How To Make Progress When You Feel Stuck

How To Make Progress When You Feel Stuck