Monday, April 22, 2013

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty

Title: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty Author: Joshilyn Jackson Publisher: Grand Central Publishing Pages:322

From Amazon:
A GROWN-UP KIND OF PRETTY is a powerful saga of three generations of women, plagued by hardships and torn by a devastating secret, yet inextricably joined by the bonds of family. Fifteen-year-old Mosey Slocumb-spirited, sassy, and on the cusp of womanhood-is shaken when a small grave is unearthed in the backyard, and determined to figure out why it's there. Liza, her stroke-ravaged mother, is haunted by choices she made as a teenager. But it is Jenny*, Mosey's strong and big-hearted grandmother, whose maternal love braids together the strands of the women's shared past--and who will stop at nothing to defend their future.

*In the novel, the character's name is Ginny, but I am including this the way Amazon presents it.

I was pretty sure I'd like this book before I even started it. I've yet to read a Joshiliyn Jackson novel that I haven't liked. I was right.
The Slocumb women are victims of a fifteen-year curse. First Ginny got pregnant at fifteen, giving birth to Liza. Fifteen years later, Liza becomes pregnant, too. Now fourteen-year-old Mosey is so paranoid about becoming pregnant (she is a virgin) that she takes pregnancy tests constantly- just to remind herself that everything is ok- that she is not a victim to the Slocumb curse. 
Liza has suffered a stroke which has left her unable to speak and partially paralyzed. When local handyman Tyler Baines cuts down the willow tree in the Slocumb's back yard to make room for the pool Liza needs for therapy, he makes a horrifying discovery- an infant buried in a small chest beneath the tree. Liza becomes distraught, uttering some of the only words she still knows- "My baby!" But if the baby beneath the tree is Liza's, who is Mosey? 
This is a hard-to-put-down story of three women facing the world head on against all odds.  It is a story of love and redemption. Joshilyn Jackson keeps you guessing right up to the final page.

Read this book if...
*you love southern fiction
*you love stories of mothers and daughters
*you love a good mystery

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Novels that Capture Appalachia

I am posting this on both this blog and my other blog, Life on Devil's Hollow.

An avid reader, I decided to make a list of novels that truly capture Appalachia and it's people. This is by no means a complete list- this is just the top of the stack.
I admit the list is heavy with Lee Smith and Robert Morgan, but if you've read them you will know why. No one captures Appalachian people and culture like they do.

I welcome any comments. I'd love to hear what books other readers feel really capture the life in this beautiful corner of the world.

Oral History by: Lee Smith

My Old True Love by: Sheila Kay Adams

Black Mountain Breakdown by: Lee Smith

Cataloochee by: Wayne Caldwell

The Hinterlands by: Robert Morgan

Christy by: Catharine Marshall

The Devil's Dream by: Lee Smith

The Coal Tattoo by: Silas House

Fair and Tender Ladies by: Lee Smith

Gap Creek by: Robert Morgan

Velva Jean Learns to Drive by: Jennifer Niven

Wish You Well by: David Baldacci

Saving Grace by: Lee Smith

 Moon Women  by: Pamela Duncan

A Parchment of Leaves by: Silas House

Roxanna Slade by: Reynolds Price

It's Top Ten Tuesday! Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Today's Top Ten :

What are the top ten books you read before you became a blogger?

Oral History by: Lee Smith

This is the ultimate southern novel. I couldn't put it down, and everyone I've recommended it to says the same. Smith combines all of what makes Appalachia beautiful- part family saga, part supernatural- my all-time favorite book. Spanning over 100 years, it tells the story of how one Appalachian family's home place became haunted...

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

What can I say? This book is a classic. I think it would be hard to find anyone who hasn't read it. A must read for any woman. 

Their Eyes Were Watching God by: Zora Neale Hurston

From the first time I read Zora Neale Hurston, I fell in love with her writing. This is a beautiful story which was made into an awesome movie starring Halle Berry. If you haven't read this one, you need to find yourself some Zora.

Fair and Tender Ladies by: Lee Smith

Ivy Rowe captures the reader's heart from the beginning. Set in Appalachia, Ivy's story is told through letters she writes, which capture her life as young girl, wife, mother and grandmother. 

The Beulah Land Series by Lonnie Coleman

I was pretty young when I got hooked on this series. Set on a deep south plantation, these novels follow one family through several generations.

Jubilee  by: Margaret Walker

This is the true story of Vyry, the child of a white plantation owner and his black mistress. Written by her great-great granddaughter, this is a haunting novel is one you won't ever forget.

Daisy Fay and the Miracle Man by: Fannie Flagg

No one writes a southern novel like Fannie Flagg. Daisy Fay Harper is the sassy heroine of this novel set on the Gulf Coast in the early 1950's.

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen

This is the first book I read by Sarah Addison Allen. I've since read them all. Josey Cirrini hides sweets in her closet....along with romance novels. Imagine her surprise when she also finds a local waitress Della Lee Baker hiding there. Allen always adds a hint of the supernatural to her stories....just like real life in the south. If you've never read Sarah Addison Allen, this is a great place to start.

The Girl Who Chased the Moon by: Sarah Addison Allen

Emily Benedict comes to Mullaby , North Carolina hoping to find out more about her mysterious mother and the childhood she never discussed. When Emily moves into her mother's childhood home with her grandfather (a real-life giant) she discovers a home where wallpaper changes to suit your moods, where more mysteries about than she bargained for...

How High the Moon by: Sandra Kring

OK- I love everything by Sandra Kring. (Who doesn't?) This story, set in 1955 & told through the eyes of Sandra "Teaspoon" Marlene, a ten-year-old girl being raised by Teddy- the man her mother left her with she ran off to California. If you haven't read Sandra Kring yet, it's time to start.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Out of the Easy

Title: Out of the Easy Author: Ruta Septys Publisher: Philomel Books Pages: 346

From Amazon:
It's 1950 and the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie Moraine wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer. She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.

Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

With characters as captivating as those in her internationally bestselling novel Between Shades of Gray, Ruta Sepetys skillfully creates a rich story of secrets, lies, and the haunting reminder that decisions can shape our destiny.

At last! I book a girl can fall in love with! I was beginning to think it was me- every book I've attempted to read lately felt more like a chore. I was starting to worry. 
Out of the Easy had me hooked from page one. Ruta Septys paints an amazingly colorful story of 1950's New Orleans. Josie grabs the reader's heart from the get go. Tough and street wise, yet vulnerable, her story leaves the reader unable to put this book down. With a self absorbed prostitute for a mother, Josie must raise herself. She finds solace and a sense of family in a local used bookshop. When the owner, a local author, discovers that Josie sleeps in his shop at night, he gives her a place to stay. Josie dreams of escaping New Orleans and going to college, but will she ever be able to outrun her past?
I LOVE Septy's writing style- no endless boring descriptions and blah blah to skip over! Septys can say in 5 words what other authors would take an entire page (or more) to express. This is an great southern novel. 

Read this book if....
*you love southern fiction
*you love stories that take place in New Orleans, LA
*you love historical fiction

Friday, April 5, 2013

Feature & Follow Friday

It's Feature and Follow Friday- a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee & Alison Can Read. This is an awesome way to meet new bloggers and gain followers for your blog. You can sign up at either site, and rules are listed on both sites.

Today's question:

Q: Have you ever read a book that you thought you would hate -- ? Did you end up hating it? Did you end up loving it? Or would you never do that?

When I first started reading Backseat Saints by Joshilyn Jackson I really thought I'd hate it. As a matter of fact, I put it down and didn't pick it back up for a while. I picked it up again later and LOVED it. It was a little slow getting started, but I just had to give it a chance.