Genre: Southern Gothic/Country Noir

Waiting on Wednesday – Miraculum by Steph Post

August 8, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Miraculum by Steph PostMiraculum by Steph Post
Published by Polis Books on January 22, 2019
Pages: 320
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir, Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Lightwood

The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, a man who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.

About Steph Post

Steph Post was born in St. Augustine, Florida and attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina on the Patricia Cornwell Scholarship for creative writing. While at Davidson College, she won the Vereen Bell writing award for short fiction. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Wilmington as part of the Graduate Liberal Studies program where she continued to write both creatively and academically. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and teaches Writing at a performing arts high school in Tampa. She is the author of the novels A Tree Born Crooked and Lightwood.

You should all know by now that I’m nuts for Southern Gothic books but Southern Gothic fantasy was not a thing I knew I needed until now. 😍

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Awakened

July 29, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Non-Fiction, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2018 2 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, AwakenedThe Line That Held Us by David Joy
Illustrator: David Palumbo
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on August 14, 2018
Pages: 272
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Also by this author: Where All Light Tends to GoThe Weight of This World

Short Summary: Darl Moody knows that he’s poaching when he sets out to go hunting late one night but he’s got many mouths to feed. The bullet he fires intended for an animal turns out to be none other than Carol Brewer who was also poaching on the same land, and instead of owning up to his mistake he buries the body and hopes that his terrifying brother Dwayne doesn’t ever connect the dots.

Thoughts: David Joy’s novels are impressively engaging and invoke the essence of the South in all the best (and terrible) ways

Verdict: The Line That Held Us was a riveting story of the reverberations of vengeance that was poignantly written. In his third novel, David Joy is clearly only getting better.

four-stars

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, AwakenedI’ll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman’s Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara
Published by Harper on February 27, 2018
Pages: 328
Genres: True Crime
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Goodreads

Short Summary: I’ll Be Gone in the Dark is the posthumous culmination of Michelle McNamara’s research into the identity of the Golden State Killer, a man who committed at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes.

Thoughts: The shining light of this true crime story is the passion and drive that McNamara possessed to uncover the mystery of a serial killer that haunted people for decades, and how heartbreaking it is that she wasn’t able to witness the day that he was finally found.

Verdict: Despite this being very obviously incomplete, I understand why the publication was so important. Did her research point directly to the killer? I would say no, however, the continued interest in the investigation clearly kept it alive when so many cases would have normally been forgotten, relegated to a basement alongside other cold cases.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, AwakenedNightflyers by George R.R. Martin
Illustrator: David Palumbo
Published by Bantam on May 29, 2018
Pages: 208
Genres: Sci-fi
Format: Hardcover
Source: Library
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Short Summary: A group of individuals set out on a scientific expedition to uncover the mysteries of an alien race but along the way, an alien presence makes itself known and the group is fighting for their lives while trying to figure out if this is the same alien presence that they sought.

Thoughts: This novella has an impressive concept but the wide cast of characters that went without proper development and the strange focus on the sex lives of these 9 individuals was needless and I would’ve much preferred more details on the mysterious alien race instead.

Verdict: Nightflyers is a very unsettling little read and I’m very much looking forward to the visual aspects of bringing this novella to life on the small screen.

three-half-stars

Rapid Reviews – The Line That Held Us, I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Awakened

Awakened by James S. MurrayDarren Wearmouth
Series: Awakened #1
Published by Harper Voyager on June 26, 2018
Pages: 287
Genres: HorrorSci-fi
Format: ARC
Source: the Publisher
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Goodreads

Short Summary: When a new subway line connecting New Jersey and New York makes its inaugural journey, it arrives in the station to a crowd of spectators that watch in horror as they realize that the train is completely empty but there’s blood everywhere.

Thoughts: This one was a ton of fun and full of creepy moments but the shift in the second half where the story focused primarily on political drama/conspiracies instead was somewhat disappointing.

Verdict: With similarities to The Strain and the very script-like way this was written, this would be a most excellent tv show.

three-half-stars

I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Line That Held Us by David Joy

May 2, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Line That Held Us by David JoyThe Line That Held Us by David Joy
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on August 14, 2018
Pages: 272
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
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Also by this author: Where All Light Tends to Go, Lightwood, The Weight of This World, The Line That Held Us

From critically acclaimed author David Joy comes a remarkable novel about the cover-up of an accidental death, and the dark consequences that reverberate through the lives of four people who will never be the same again.

When Darl Moody went hunting after a monster buck he’s chased for years, he never expected he’d accidentally shoot a man digging ginseng. Worse yet, he’s killed a Brewer, a family notorious for vengeance and violence. With nowhere to turn, Darl calls on the help of the only man he knows will answer, his best friend, Calvin Hooper. But when Dwayne Brewer comes looking for his missing brother and stumbles onto a blood trail leading straight back to Darl and Calvin, a nightmare of revenge rips apart their world. The Line That Held Us is a story of friendship and family, a tale balanced between destruction and redemption where the only hope is to hold on tight, clenching to those you love. What will you do for the people who mean the most, and what will you grasp to when all that you have is gone? The only certainty in a place so shredded is that no one will get away unscathed.

About David Joy

David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction. His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

I’ve loved all of Joy’s books so I’m thrilled to see he’s got more to look forward to.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Life’s Too Short – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living God

April 6, 2018 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Life's Too Short, Read in 2018 2 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodBarbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 6th 2018
Pages: 416
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads


dnf

Never cut the drugs--leave them pure.Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded.Family is everything--betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen--collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother's death, and now they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.

With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father's violent world will destroy her. Duke's raised her to be deadly--he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out Duke's operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKennas always win.

DNF @ 16%

Southern Gothic is my jam and Barbed Wire Heart sounded right up my alley. Of course, when you compare anything to Winter’s Bone I’m even more on board. Harley McKenna’s character did in fact, read a lot like Ree Dolly with her badass nature and overall inability to sit on the sidelines letting someone else handle business. It’s an admirable quality and I’m quite fond of this characteristic in female characters. For some reason though, something about the characters, the atmosphere, and the story itself just never rang true for me. It felt like a combination of a lack of authenticity and simply trying too hard to fit in all the guns, the drugs, the bad men, and excessive violence that are characters in and of themselves in novels of this ilk. Whatever it was that ultimately turned me off from this story, I wish it wasn’t the case because I had high hopes for this one.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodUnbury Carol by Josh Malerman
Published by Del Rey on April 10, 2018
Pages: 384
Genres: Fantasy, Western
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Also by this author: Bird Box, Black Mad Wheel

dnf

Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.

DNF @ 15%

As you might have guessed from the title, Carol is dead. Or at least she dies a lot but she comes back, for some mysterious reason. When Carol was still alive and kicking, she married this pretty horrible dude named Dwight (horrible dude, horrible name… it fits) who only pretended to like her for her money, but now that she’s died again, he intends to keep it that way. Except for her ex, the outlaw James Moxie is coming to save her from a forever death. Yeah, outlaw. This is some bizarre blend of fantasy and the Wild West and there were absolutely no ‘horror’ bits about it. Except having to read characters constantly repeat the phrase “Hell’s heaven” ad nauseam was plenty horrific enough.

Honestly, this just sounds like a bad Lifetime movie, but Bird Box remains one of my all-time favorite horror novels and I keep trying his stories even though nothing has managed to come close.

I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Life’s Too Short – Barbed Wire Heart, Unbury Carol, Future Home of the Living GodFuture Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich
Published by Harper on November 14, 2017
Pages: 288
Genres: Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Goodreads

Also by this author: The Round House

dnf

The world as we know it is ending. Evolution has reversed itself, affecting every living creature on earth. Science cannot stop the world from running backwards, as woman after woman gives birth to infants that appear to be primitive species of humans. Twenty-six-year-old Cedar Hawk Songmaker, adopted daughter of a pair of big-hearted, open-minded Minneapolis liberals, is as disturbed and uncertain as the rest of America around her. But for Cedar, this change is profound and deeply personal. She is four months pregnant.

Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.

There are rumors of martial law, of Congress confining pregnant women. Of a registry, and rewards for those who turn these wanted women in. Flickering through the chaos are signs of increasing repression: a shaken Cedar witnesses a family wrenched apart when police violently drag a mother from her husband and child in a parking lot. The streets of her neighborhood have been renamed with Bible verses. A stranger answers the phone when she calls her adoptive parents, who have vanished without a trace. It will take all Cedar has to avoid the prying eyes of potential informants and keep her baby safe.

A chilling dystopian novel both provocative and prescient, Future Home of the Living God is a startlingly original work from one of our most acclaimed writers: a moving meditation on female agency, self-determination, biology, and natural rights that speaks to the troubling changes of our time.

DNF @ 20% (+ scan reading)

The concept of evolution reversing itself is a potentially fascinating story, but Erdrich didn’t exactly tackle the details of this idea. It’s merely a stated occurrence and the story instead focuses on women being rounded up for breeding stock because there are so few “original” babies being born. Which… just sounds a lot like The Handmaid’s Tale to me. Whether or not it’s the renewed interest in The Handmaid’s Tale what with the new show, but there have been a ridiculous amount of dystopian tales surrounding the degradation of women as of late. This is all well and good, I’m always on board for a good dystopian story, but with Future Home of the Living God, Erdrich’s attempts to hop on the bandwagon of dystopian lit results in nothing more than a lesser, imitative version.

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Waiting on Wednesday – Barbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe

January 3, 2018 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Barbed Wire Heart by Tess SharpeBarbed Wire Heart by Tess Sharpe
Published by Grand Central Publishing on March 6th 2018
Pages: 416
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
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Goodreads

Also by this author: Barbed Wire Heart

Never cut the drugs--leave them pure.Guns are meant to be shot--keep them loaded.Family is everything--betray them and die.

Harley McKenna is the only child of North County's biggest criminal. Duke McKenna's run more guns, cooked more meth, and killed more men than anyone around. Harley's been working for him since she was sixteen--collecting debts, sweet-talking her way out of trouble, and dreading the day he'd deem her ready to rule the rural drug empire he's built.

Her time's run out. The Springfields, her family's biggest rivals, are moving in. Years ago, they were responsible for her mother's death, and now they're coming for Duke's only weak spot: his daughter.

With a bloody turf war threatening to consume North County, Harley is forced to confront the truth: that her father's violent world will destroy her. Duke's raised her to be deadly--he never counted on her being disloyal. But if Harley wants to survive and protect the people she loves, she's got to take out Duke's operation and the Springfields.

Blowing up meth labs is dangerous business, and getting caught will be the end of her, but Harley has one advantage: She is her father's daughter. And McKennas always win.

About Tess Sharpe

Born in a mountain cabin to a punk-rocker mother, Tess Sharpe grew up in rural northern California. Living deep in the backwoods with a pack of dogs and a herd of formerly feral cats, she is the author of Barbed Wire Heart and the critically acclaimed YA novel Far From You.


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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of Magic

December 28, 2017 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Rapid Fire Reviews, Read in 2017 7 Comments

Sometimes review writing is hard. Sometimes you don’t have a lot to say. Sometimes you’re just lazy as fuck. These are Rapid Fire Reviews.

Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicLightwood by Steph Post
Published by Polis Books on January 24th 2017
Pages: 336
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eBook
Source: the Author
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Short Summary: When Judah Cannon is released from prison and returns to his hometown of Silas, Florida, he finds himself swiftly wrapped up in the troublesome workings of his family once again except this time may not result in prison, but death.

Thoughts: Steph Post has written a riveting noir-style story about revenge and betrayal that switches up the typical Appalachian setting of most Southern Gothic novels and gives us a peek at the dynamic and dangerous world of Florida scrub country.

Verdict: Daniel Woodrell, Donald Ray Pollock, and Cormac McCarthy are all big names of the often lurid genre but Steph Post proves with Lightwood that her name is just as deserving to be listed amongst them.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicThe Weight of This World by David Joy
Published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons on March 7th 2017
Pages: 260
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Aiden McCall and Thad Broom have been best friends since they were children, both trapped by the imaginary confines of their hometown even after a huge amount of money ends up in their possession after witnessing the violent death of their drug dealer.

Thoughts: Joy’s graceful prose is all the more evident when its backdrop is a brutal tale but the two pair perfectly by focusing on the powerful loyalty between two lifelong friends.

Verdict: There’s no sophomore slump to be had here; The Weight of the World is just as fantastic as Where All Light Tends to Go which makes the wait for The Line That Held Us all the more interminable.

four-stars

Waiting on Wednesday – Wildfire (Hidden Legacy #3) by Ilona AndrewsWildfire by Ilona Andrews
Series: Hidden Legacy #3
Published by Avon on July 25th 2017
Pages: 400
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: Life is never quiet for Nevada Baylor who realizes she’s in love with Mad Rogan, has to contend with being hired for a job by his beautiful ex, but she’s also dealing with her evil grandmother trying to kidnap her solely because of the power she possessed.

Thoughts: The intricate world-building, passionate romance, and overall excitement of this series continue in this installment that just might not be the last in the trilogy as first presumed.

Verdict: This is the 19th Ilona Andrews story so clearly I’m a bit of a fangirl; however, it never ceases to amaze me the originality of their stories and how I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of them.

four-stars

Rapid Fire Reviews – Lightwood, The Weight of This World, Wildfire, The Rules of MagicThe Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
Series: Practical Magic #2
Published by Simon & Schuster on October 10th 2017
Pages: 384
Genres: Historical FictionMagical Realism
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
Amazon | B&N | Book Depository | Audible
Goodreads

Short Summary: In Practical Magic we learn about the Owens sisters in the present day and in this unexpected prequel, we learn about their ancestors and the curse on the family that dates back to the early 1600s.

Thoughts: The Rules of Magic is an enchanting story that flows softly, never with any sense of urgency or climax, but delineates on a family that we never quite knew we wanted (or needed) to know more of until this was released.

Verdict: I was worried that this prequel (released twenty-two years after Practical Magic would feel stale and wouldn’t possess the same magic as its predecessor: I was wrong.

four-stars

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay Tyson

December 13, 2017 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 4 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Past Is Never by Tiffany Quay TysonThe Past Is Never: A Novel by Tiffany Quay Tyson
Published by Skyhorse Publishing on March 6th 2018
Pages: 304
Genres: Magical Realism, Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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A compelling addition to contemporary Southern Gothic fiction, deftly weaving together local legends, magical realism, and the search for a missing child.

Siblings Bert, Willet, and Pansy know better than to go swimming at the old rock quarry. According to their father, it's the devil's place, a place that's been cursed and forgotten. But Mississippi Delta summer days are scorching hot and they can't resist cooling off in the dark, bottomless water. Until the day six-year-old Pansy disappears. Not drowned, not lost . . . simply gone.

After years with no sign, no hope of ever finding Pansy alive, Bert and Willet have tried to move on. But as surely as their mother died of a broken heart, they can't let go. So when clues surface drawing them to the remote tip of Florida, they drop everything and drive south. Deep in the murky depths of the Florida Everglades they may find the answer to Pansy's mysterious disappearance . . . but truth, like the past, is sometimes better left where it lies.

Perfect for fans of Flannery O'Connor and Dorothy Allison, The Past Is Never is an atmospheric, haunting story of myths, legends, and the good and evil we carry in our hearts.

About Tiffany Quay Tyson

Tiffany Quay Tyson was born and raised in Mississippi, where most of her fiction is set. Her debut novel, THREE RIVERS, was a Mississippi bestseller and a finalist for both the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Fiction Award and the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction. Her second novel, THE PAST IS NEVER, is forthcoming March 6, 2018. She currently lives and writes in Denver. Colorado, where she serves on the faculty of Lighthouse Writers Workshop.

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a sucker for anything Southern Gothic. Adding in Magical Realism? Now that’s a combination I haven’t come across before.


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What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday – Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

October 5, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 8 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – Desperation Road by Michael Farris SmithDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
Published by Little Brown and Company on February 7th 2017
Pages: 304
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
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"An elegantly written, perfectly-paced novel about a man and woman indelibly marked by violence" (Ron Rash) set in a Mississippi town where drugs, whiskey, guns, and revenge explosively collide.

For eleven years the clock has been ticking for Russell Gaines as he sits in Parchman penitentiary. His sentence now up, Russell believes his debt has been paid. But when he returns home, he discovers that revenge lives and breathes all around him.

Meanwhile, a woman named Maben and her young daughter trudge along the side of the interstate. Desperate and exhausted, the pair spend their last dollar on a room for the night, a night that ends with Maben holding a pistol and a dead deputy sprawled in the middle of the road.

With the dawn, destinies collide, and Russell is forced to decide whose life he will save—his own or those of the woman and child.

About Michael Farris Smith

Michael Farris Smith's new novel, Desperation Road, will be available in February of 2017 from Lee Boudreaux Books. His debut novel Rivers was named to numerous Best Books of 2013 lists and garnered the Mississippi Author Award for Fiction. He lives in Mississippi with his wife and daughters.

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I have been eager to get a hold of Rivers, his post-apocalyptic debut novel, for I don’t even know how long. And now Smith is writing a book in my second favorite genre. And it’s blurbed by James Lee Burke AND  Ron Rash! I need no other reason to get excited.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Waiting on Wednesday – The Weight of This World by David Joy

September 14, 2016 Bonnie Waiting on Wednesday 3 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday – The Weight of This World by David JoyThe Weight of This World by David Joy
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on March 7th 2017
Pages: 272
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: Hardcover
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: Where All Light Tends to Go, The Weight of This World, The Line That Held Us

Critically acclaimed author David Joy, whose debut Where All Light Tends to Go was hailed as “a savagely moving novel that will likely become an important addition to the great body of Southern literature” (Huffington Post), returns to the mountains of North Carolina with a powerful story about the inescapable weight of the past.

A combat veteran returned from war, Thad Broom can’t leave the hardened world of Afghanistan behind, nor can he forgive himself for what he saw there. His mother, April, is haunted by her own demons, a secret trauma she has carried for years. Between them is Aiden McCall, loyal to both but unable to hold them together. Connected by bonds of circumstance and duty, friendship and love, these three lives are blown apart when Aiden and Thad witness the accidental death of their drug dealer and a riot of dope and cash drops in their laps. On a meth-fueled journey to nowhere, they will either find the grit to overcome the darkness or be consumed by it.

About David Joy

David Joy is the author of the novels Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015) and Waiting On The End Of The World (Putnam, 2016), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction. His work is represented by Julia Kenny of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency.

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I was a big fan of Joy’s Where All Light Tends to Go and I’m looking forward to what is bound to be more crazy adventures in the mountains of North Carolina.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill @ Breaking the Spine

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Book Review – The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock

July 22, 2016 Bonnie Adult, Book Reviews, Read in 2016 4 Comments

I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review – The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray PollockThe Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock
Published by Doubleday on July 12th 2016
Pages: 384
Genres: Southern Gothic/Country Noir
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Goodreads

Also by this author: The Devil All the Time

two-half-stars

From Donald Ray Pollock, author of the highly acclaimed The Devil All the Time and Knockemstiff, comes a dark, gritty, electrifying (and, disturbingly, weirdly funny) new novel that will solidify his place among the best contemporary American authors.

It is 1917, in that sliver of border land that divides Georgia from Alabama. Dispossessed farmer Pearl Jewett ekes out a hardscrabble existence with his three young sons: Cane (the eldest; handsome; intelligent); Cob (short; heavy set; a bit slow); and Chimney (the youngest; thin; ill-tempered). Several hundred miles away in southern Ohio, a farmer by the name of Ellsworth Fiddler lives with his son, Eddie, and his wife, Eula. After Ellsworth is swindled out of his family’s entire fortune, his life is put on a surprising, unforgettable, and violent trajectory that will directly lead him to cross paths with the Jewetts. No good can come of it. Or can it?

In the gothic tradition of Flannery O’Connor and Cormac McCarthy with a healthy dose of cinematic violence reminiscent of Sam Peckinpah, Quentin Tarantino and the Coen Brothers, the Jewetts and the Fiddlers will find their lives colliding in increasingly dark and horrific ways, placing Donald Ray Pollock firmly in the company of the genre’s literary masters.

style-3 review

“That’s the one good thing about this here life. Nothin’ in it lasts for long.”

The Heavenly Table‘s cast of characters is extremely large and despite the extravagant and grandiose picture attempting to be painted, most characters were superfluous. There were two main stories, the first being the story of Pearl Jewett and his three sons, Cane, Chimney, and Cobb. Their father is something of a religious man and believed that the harder they lived here on Earth, the higher chance they would earn a seat at the heavenly table. They lived the hardest existence possible without succumbing to it. Until the day that Pearl did, and his boys decided to hell with the heavenly table, they wanted to live good now. They began with a  murder, followed it up with a bank robbery, and went on from there.

The second is the story of a farmer named Ellsworth Fiddler, a farmer in Ohio, who also leads a hard existence but only because he got swindled out of his life savings. On top of that, his son, who was the only help he had with farm work, has up and disappeared. The year is 1917 and war is brewing and Ellsworth believes he joined up and hopes that he can finally make something of himself.

These stories were all well and good but we’re given full accounts of several other storylines that never really ended up amounting to much. The military officer that gets dumped, discovers he’s gay, decides to kill himself but decides at the last minute to enlist so he can die honorably in the war instead. The black man that uses and abuses women travels home to visit his family but finds himself mixed up with the Jewett’s. The bar keep in a small town that likes kidnapping and torturing people for the hell of it. And last but certainly not least, the sanitation inspector with a giant penis. I’m not kidding. At one point it’s referred to as a “long slab of meat.” I think that about covers everything but goddamn was it convoluted. The chapters, of which there are 72 in total, are short and to the point which didn’t exactly help when you’re trying to connect and under such an extensive cast of characters. All in all it made for quite the rocky read.

The Devil All the Time, Pollock’s debut novel, is one of my all time favorites and is the book that solidified my love of southern gothic fiction. It hosted a cast of perverse characters and was extremely violent brash, but damn was it brilliant. The Heavenly Table introduces a brand new cast of perverse characters but there was a distinctly vulgar quality to Pollock’s sophomore effort that I found fairly unpleasant. Here are just a few examples:

‘Even Esther, probably the least self-conscious person he’d ever met, occasionally got the jitters if too many voyeurs crowded into her tent to watch her play a tune on some john’s skin flute.’

and

‘Bovard had stumbled to his quarters so aroused from what Malone had said that he was still awake at reveille, his handkerchief stiff with ejaculate and his hand cramped so badly that he had a difficult time lacing up his boots.’

Pollock excels at portraying the backwoods down South mentality. He highlights just how poor the poor were and the lengths they would go just to climb out of the station assigned to them at birth. It’s sad and devastating when you really think about it, but Pollock’s delivery is done in such a way so as to not garner sympathy. He simply tells it like it is. The added facet of WWI seemed an unnecessary inclusion at first but it only aided in highlighting the small mindedness of these people and how unaware they are of the vastness of the world around them.

“And what’s this?” Eula said, pointing at the broad expanse of blue that separated America from Europe while waving gnats away from her face.
“That’s the Atlantic Ocean.”
Ellsworth leaned in for a closer look. “Why, that don’t look no bigger than Clancy’s pond,” he said.

Times were changing for these people, whether they liked it or not. Not just with the war either but with new technology and even evolving mindsets. It was a time of change and seeing these characters confronted with it was most fascinating.

I never thought to expect more novels from Pollock, I was sure that The Devil All the Time was destined to be his only one, and while this one was quite a disappointment overall it’s still fantastic to see southern gothic continue to grow in popularity.

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