For Carpe Diem, Illinois:

“I’m going to be recommending Carpe Diem, Illinois on Facebook as a great summer read. Actually, I was going to send you a note with a complaint about how you’ve disrupted my schedule. I’m under such heavy deadline pressure these days that I simply can’t afford to get engrossed in another book. I initially gave Carpe Diem, Illinois a quick overview when it arrived — enough to know I despised Reagan Colyer — but the book hooked me with it’s creative approach to such an urgent issue. The plot was gripping, the characters very real to me, and the writing kept me coming back to the book every time I could carve out a free minute. I can always tell that I’m reading an extraordinary book when I see that only a few pages remain and I don’t want it to end. You are an incredibly talented writer. Thank you for sharing your gift. You deserve great success.”

John Gile, award-winning writer, journalist, editor, publisher


“Carpe Diem, Illinois, (A Leo Townsend novel) by Kristin A. Oakley, provides us a glimpse of the homeschooling experience while delivering a gritty story of murder and intrigue in small town America. Leo Townsend, Oakley’s protagonist, is a tough guy reporter whose best piece of journalism has ironically been ghost written by an anonymous source. Determined to find out who is playing him and why, Leo sets out to unravel a mysterious murder in an otherwise sleepy town. Ms. Oakley ends the novel with the promise of more Townsend in the future, which is wonderful news for those who enjoy great mysteries. I selected Carpe Diem, Illinois from all of the great books I read this year because the hero has both an edge and a playfulness that proved to be highly engaging.”

Jay Rehak, The Chicago Writers Association 2014 Book of the Year Finalist Judge 


“Reading Carpe Diem, Illinois took me back to the days when ‘unschooling’ first re-appeared amongst humankind. [Re-appeared, because in the days before schools were invented as holding tanks for our young it was the way people learned, made sense of their world, and grew to adulthood.] The earliest home schoolers I came to know as head of Clonlara School and its Home Based Education Program were all DYI-ers like the Holdens.

Kristin Oakley covers all of the bases of those days: conventional school parents and youngsters who were mostly flummoxed, obstinate public school superintendents, unyielding – even vicious – non-custodial parent, and wary family members. Quinn, Will, and Josh simply tell it like it was… and IS. This is a gem of a book. It will warm the cockles of the hearts of bona fide unschoolers and it will enlighten those who haven’t a clue.”

Pat Montgomery, Ph.D.


“A small town’s embrace of ‘unschooling’ reveals massive government corruption and personal battles in Oakley’s debut novel, the first in a planned series.

In the intentional community of Carpe Diem, Illinois, the town’s 3,000 residents educate their children using . . . ‘unschooling,’ much to the consternation of a state senator and a political aide. Veteran reporter Leo, who wavers between hard-hitting investigative journalism and drinking binges, is given one final chance to turn his career around when he’s assigned to the town to get the story. As he uncovers connections among the town’s leaders, a near-fatal accident and a bill to ban home schooling in the state, he realized that he had the chance to once again break a story about massive political corruption. A secondary plotline follows Tali, the daughter of the anti-home schooling senator, who finds her own place for herself in Carpe Diem as her mother recovers in the local hospital. Oakley does a good job of wrapping up the many complex plot threads by the end of the book . . . Leo is an engaging character throughout, with enough faults and complexities to keep readers’ attention.

A unique combination of small-town chronicle and political thriller that’s likely to draw in fans of both genres.”

Kirkus Reviews