Reading in Threes: Southern Comfort

February 27, 2015 2015, ARC, mini reviews, Reading in Threes, reviews 17

I grew up in the Midwest, but reading about the South always feels like going home. This time, Reading in Threes takes a walk into the dark corners of the American South.

23924097
Slim and The Beast by Samuél L. Barrantes
Published by Inkshares on February 3rd, 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 200
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

Slim, a former solider, and his best friend The Beast are heading for Milwaukee in hopes of jump-starting The Beast’s NBA career following his dismissal from UNC’s basketball team. Before they make it out of their small town, a fierce hurricane forces them into a small bar and closer to a man who has been following them both.

Though his novel is titled Slim and The Beast, Samuél L. Barrantes first introduces readers to Slim and Dykes, the Sergeant at Stoke Ridge Military Academy who eventually stalks the pair of friends through the hurricane. Each of the novel’s characters has a vastly different background, which allows the story to expand from its small focus in the bar. Though Dykes comes across as perfectly mythic, over exaggerated and almost larger than life through the eyes of Slim and The Beast, I struggled with the way his sexuality was similarly characterized. But as a whole, Slim and The Beast is an interesting intersection of controlled character study and wild ride unlike anything I’ve ever read.

 

where all light tends to go
Where All Light Tends to Go by David Joy
Published by Putnam on March 3rd, 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 272
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

Jacob McNeely has never lived up to the expectations of his ruthless father, who runs a meth ring in the area surrounding their small North Carolina town. Still, he drops out of school and throws himself into his father’s world in hopes of someday earning enough money to leave town with his first love, Maggie.

David Joy writes with the sense he’s intimately familiar with every corner, scratch and screen door he conjures up in his debut novel. Without reading like overworked dialect, a long drawl threads itself through the pages and knits together the characters’ well-worn relationships. Jacob’s internal conflict over the morality of his work gradually turns external and brings Where All Light Tends to Go to a close with an absolutely gut-wrenching conclusion.

“Those days alone were the first time I ever remember praying, and that’s the thing about folks who aren’t used to offering words to God. Praying’s easiest when you need something, selfish kinds of prayers, and that’s the type I prayed.”

 

22367526
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Published by Putnam on February 10th, 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 320
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood is rocked by news that fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson had been raped outside her home. Several suspects surface over the next  few years, but with little evidence, Lindy, her family and her neighbors attempt to return to life as usual. My Sunshine Away examines the years just before and after that summer through the eyes of a teenage boy both enchanted by Lindy and haunted by the unsolved crime.

My Sunshine Away‘s unnamed narrator quickly hooks readers with his candid confessions and gradual release of information regarding the suspects in Lindy’s rape, including himself. Through this, Walsh creates a tense atmosphere of suspense without losing the heart of the novel. Though I was a little disappointed by the neatness of the ending, the story itself is one full of honesty and nostalgia with the power to grip readers from start to finish.

Feed Your Feed Reader

February 26, 2015 2015, book blogging, lists 49

book blogs

 

Monika from A Lovely Bookshelf wrote a fantastic post earlier this week highlighting five book blogs that make her happy. With the negativity we’ve been wading through lately, the post was a great push to get back on track and connect with one another. At the same time, it also reminded me this is the perfect opportunity to think about expanding our circles to include new blogs, whether they’re new to us or new to the blogosphere. Here are a few great book blogs I recently started following:

Bookishly Speaking

April’s blog is lovely, her taste is great and she has some serious library skills. I love seeing what she has checked out each week.

Books, the Universe & Everything

I don’t know how I didn’t find Emily’s blog sooner, but I want to make sure no one else is left behind! She will give you a serious case of wanderlust and rock you with some really thoughtful posts.

Gun In Act One

It takes a special set of sisters to handle the work of book blogging together, but Holly and Amanda have it down. Sometimes they split the work and let us see their different tastes, but they also bring it together for some sisterly snark.

Malcolm Avenue Review

After following her on Twitter and seeing her great taste in books, I was super excited when Lauren started blogging last year. Little did I know her reviews would be so incredible AND she’d share positive posts with pictures of her sweet pup each week.

Outlandish Lit

If you read the first paragraph of Julianne’s About Me page, you’ll know why I had to follow her blog. But not only does she make me laugh (every time!), she’s reading some amazing books to boot.

Shaina Reads

Shaina started blogging late last year and has jumped right into it with really creative ways to share her reading, like a chat/review with Julianne from Outlandish Lit.

 

What blogs have you added to your feed reader recently?

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson

February 24, 2015 2015, ARC, reviews 8

Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo JohnsonWelcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson
Published by William Morrow on February 17th 2015
Source: Publisher
Pages: 384
Buy From IndieBoundGoodreads

 

When D’aron Davenport chooses to leave the small, Dixie-loving town of Braggsville, Georgia for his freshman year at UC Berkeley, he imagines the world will open up before him. Instead, he finds himself thrown into a hyper-sensitive landscape where people jump to answer questions he never thought to ask. D’aron eventually finds solace in a group of friends, dubbed the “4 Little Indians”, who bring him comfort and challenge him in equal measure. But that comfort is shaken when D’aron brings the group to Braggsville to protest its annual Civil War reenactment.

“They all wondered, he knew, especially hearing his Friday-night accent, youfermented—becoming a long y’all, and ain’t rearing it’s ugly head before, worse yet, being distilled intoant. He could reckon the direction of the wheels turning in their heads: budget cuts plus more out-of-state fart-sniffer students equals lower standards. They were wrong, and if they dared ask, he’d say so. Unlike some of them, he’d done it on his own.”

At the start of the novel, Johnson’s words flow in slam poetry waves that beg to be read aloud. Though he eventually settles into a more traditional narrative voice, the poetic, abstract roots regularly reappear and give Welcome to Braggsville its distinct style; one which may not appeal to all readers. Fortunately, the novel’s merit goes well beyond the order of words on the page to make it a rare blend of style and substance.

Though it sounds like a book aimed squarely at taking down the long history of racism in the South, nothing is safe from Welcome to Braggsville’s biting satire. Political correctness, social media and Berkeley’s outlandish liberalism are mocked and held under a microscope alongside Braggsville’s close-minded residents. Fiercely funny, sad and incredibly timely, Welcome to Braggsville will have readers with solid, long-held beliefs tilting their heads and looking closer.

It’s Monday, February 23rd. What Are You Reading?

February 23, 2015 2015, it's monday, travel, what are you reading? 58

monday

 

After a pretty treacherous drive back from Michigan on Saturday, it feels pretty great to be home. I didn’t end up reading as much as I’d hoped to on the trip, but caught up a bit yesterday and have a few new books for this week. My book club is reading Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I’m super excited about, and I’m also getting started on Gallileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger.

If you’re checking in from a feed reader, things are looking a little different here on the site. Stephanie from New Chapter Designs put together another wonderful blog design that captures just what I was looking for.

And finally, the situation involving plagiarism of content from this site (among many others) surfaced again over the weekend and there were hurt feelings and misinformation all around. Though I don’t find the behavior excusable or even understandable for any reason, the apology and subsequent discussions have led to some great dialogue, starting with Andi’s post on not being Wonderwoman. Yesterday felt really refreshing and it’s good to know we have the potential to turn something heavy into something positive. At the same time, as Kim mentioned yesterday, I hope this also prompts a discussion on how to better handle situations surrounding plagiarism in the future.

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading?

My 2015 Tournament of Books Bracket

February 22, 2015 2015, book events, discussion 18

2015 TOB

 

We’re getting really close now! The 2015 Tournament of Books starts March 5th and the brackets have been released. Since it was fun to make some predictions last year (and I didn’t do too terrible in the end), I thought I’d give it a shot again. I didn’t get through all the titles, but I did end up reading nine of the sixteen.

My predictions are based on what I think the judges may pick, not what I would choose. And some of these are totally out of the air because the pairings are killing me. Either way, my strongest prediction is that we will see All the Light We Cannot See or Station Eleven in the final round (possibly both) and one of them will win. I think they’re most likely to be Zombie picks if they don’t get to that point on their own, which they both have a strong chance of doing. As for the match-ups I’m most anxious for?

The Bone Clocks v. Adam (March 9)

I didn’t read either of these, but I’ve read some…interesting things about Adam, so I’m curious how the commentary will go.

All the Birds, Singing v. A Brief History of Seven Killings (March 10)

I loved All the Birds, Singing and…didn’t love A Brief History, but I think they’re both really strong contenders and definitely have serious fans. Totally unsure which way this one will swing.

Station Eleven v. An Untamed State (March 16)

Whyyyyyyy? Why? I feel like An Untamed State could have tackled almost any other title, but I’m just not sure it can win up against the universal love for Station Eleven. I hope I’m wrong.

 

What are your predictions for the Tournament of Books? 

 

What’s On My Podcast App?

February 19, 2015 2015, discussion, lists, travel 35

favorite podcasts

Or, more accurately, why I haven’t read in several days. I spend most of my time in the car listening to podcasts, but I recently accumulated a backlog of so many great sounding episodes on my PocketCasts app that I listened in place of reading through most of the 12 hour drive to Michigan. A little over a year ago I wrote a post about my favorite bookish podcasts and they are all still in heavy rotation. I’ve gone on a bit of a movie and pop culture binge lately, thanks in part to Oscar season, and some of my new favorites seem to reflect that.

Bitch Media’s Feminist Podcast

A bi-monthly podcast that analyzes pop culture from a feminist point of view. Fantastic interviews, guests and commentary!

Dear Sugar Radio

Perhaps you heard me hyperventilating over Twitter when news of this podcast broke. Cheryl Strayed and Steve Almond answer questions and give advice in the style of our forever favorite, Dear Sugar.

Nerdette Podcast

Everything a grown-up lady nerd loves rolled into one podcast. Books, movies, music and nerdettes of days past. Heather over at Capricious Reader has a whole post about the show up on her blog!

Filmspotting

I feel like a total film amateur when I listen to this podcast, but I love it anyway. These guys are serious about movies like book people are serious about books…and it’s great.

Slate’s Culture Gabfest

Like an audio water cooler, but with really smart, funny on point commentary. Whenever I feel out of the loop when it comes to news or weekly happenings, I make sure to listen.

 

What podcasts have you been listening to?