Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

unnamedMs. Jackson is a local author and one I have not previously read. I really was super stoked to join this tour and honestly could not wait to start reading this. But then the end of my reading world happened and I haven’t finished a single book this month. Including this one. So now I begin my groveling and hoping that y’all will still love me. I do fully intend to read this, but it might not happen until January when I host my Southern Literature Month. I can only hope I’ve found my reading mojo again by that time.

That being said, Jackson’s newest novel is getting so much love! The reviews have really been superb. I’ll link a couple here:

S. Krishna’s Books

Write Meg!

What I’ve been gathering is that Someone Else’s Love Story really reads differently than the cliched, overdone romance plot. The novel also apparently has quite the emotional punch. I follow Joshilyn Jackson on Twitter and love her! Read a recent interview she did for Powell’s here.

Also, if you live in the Atlanta area she’ll be spending Small Business Saturday selling books and greeting customers over at Eagle Eye Bookshop in Decatur. I’ll most definitely be stopping by.

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Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review (which will definitely happen soonish!). Stop by TLC’s site for all of the tour stops.

About the Author:

Joshilyn-JacksonJoshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, including gods in Alabama and A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, Jackson is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

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The Cutting Season by Attica Locke

I’m fascinated by Louisiana and the New Orleans area – always have been.  There’s just something so uniquely Southern about this part of the country, an almost haunted feeling of past meshing with present that intrigues me so much.  So when I know a story is set there, I absolutely cannot resist.  The Cutting Season, Locke’s second novel, captures the tension of antebellum plantations and modern day perfectly, only enhancing my obsession with the spirit of Louisiana.

Caren Gray has come home again, back to Belle Vie, the plantation where her family spent generations as slaves cutting cane and where she grew up while her mother played cook to the current day owners, the Clancy family.  But now Caren is manager of the property and trying to come to terms with her family’s history and how to reconcile an ugly past with a promising future.  To complicate matters, a migrant field worker is found murdered on Belle Vie’s property and now a killer is on the loose.  Before long, Caren realizes that this present tragedy is all too similar to a past crime against her ancestors.  Can Caren find the killer before someone else gets hurt or an innocent party is thrown in jail?

Attica Locke can write, plain and simple.  I loved settling down in her prose for hour after hour of time more than well spent.  The Cutting Season really transcends any sort of typical murder mystery to become this haunting historical mystery novel full of atmosphere and a strong sense of place.  There’s so much more to care about within these nearly 400 pages besides the whodunnit.  Caren’s relationship with her mother and her own daughter is nuanced and complex.  The bridges and gaps between who we were, who we are, and who we will be are deeply studied and brilliantly realized.  I believe Locke has written a novel worthy of any college classroom that simultaneously satisfies picky plot-driven readers.  I can’t wait to pick up a copy of her first novel – how did I ever miss it to begin with?

I will say that the first third of the novel travels a bit slowly.  Locke spends a hundred or so pages painting a detailed picture of Belle Vie, her characters, and the murky past that will come into play so heavily during the much more quickly paced latter half.  But hang in there and you won’t be disappointed.  And the killer is far from easily spotted.  I suspected multiple shady and not-so-shady characters throughout the pages!  The resolution was so tightly plotted and realistic – these events could so easily happen in real life that it almost felt like really well done narrative nonfiction.  I literally googled the historical facts surrounding the murder case before remembering everything was fiction!

All-in-all, a great read and a perfect selection for October – just the right amount of spookiness and atmosphere for Halloween.  Attica Locke is an author you don’t want to miss out on, I promise!

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Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for providing the review copy in exchange for my honest review.  Check out the other tour dates here!

Black Water Rising, Attica Locke’s first novel, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orange Prize in the UK in 2010. It was nominated for an Edgar Award, an NAACP Image Award, as well as a Los Angeles Times Book Prize and a Strand Magazine Critics Award.Black Water Rising was also a finalist for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.

Attica Locke has spent many years working as a screenwriter, penning movie and television scripts for Paramount, Warner Bros., Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, HBO, and Dreamworks. She was a fellow at the Sundance Institute’s Feature Filmmakers Lab and is a graduate of Northwestern University.

A native of Houston, Texas, Attica now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. She is a member of the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. Most recently, she wrote the introduction for the UK publication of Ernest Gaines’s A Lesson Before Dying. Her second book, The Cutting Season, will be published by HarperCollins / and Dennis Lehane in September 2012.

The Candidate by Paul Harris + Giveaway!

I was excited to get my copy of The Candidate by Paul Harris since I can be quite the political junkie.  And reading a book about a presidential campaign during our real presidential campaign seems remarkably fitting, ya know?  Make it a political thriller where a presidential nominee deals with an assassination attempt in the first couple of pages and I’m hooked.

While I’d love to dish all the plot goodiness with y’all, I’ll restrain myself to the above mentioned assassination attempt which opens up a can of worms and a dangerous journey to discover the secrets of candidate Jack Hodges’ past, present, and future.  You’ll travel throughout the US – Iowa, New Hampshire, D.C., South Carolina and into the bowels of Guatemala.   It’s a fast-paced journey to discover just who this murderous woman really is (that’s right – a woman wants the maybe president dead!) and one that I highly recommend.

The characters were fun to read and many seemed very realistically written.  I loved the campaign manager, Dee, and campaign lackey, Mike Sweeney.  The politics are downright dirty which I suspect is also heavily grounded in reality and something Harris has much real life experience with.  And the pacing is pretty spot-on.  I read the final 200 pages in a couple of hours.  This is a book you’ll sit down with and not get up for quite some time.  So make yourself some coffee and prepare for a long night!

But obviously, no book is perfect.  I think Harris is a great plot-driven writer and story teller, but he needs a new editor.  I know the average reader may not notice some of the sloppiness I did, but getting the characters mixed up more than once is just not good.  I also thought that the candidate, Jack Hodges, was way beyond too good to be true.  Harris should have really dirtied him up a bit more to make him at least resemble human.  And the outcome, the unveiling of all the answers, was so obvious it bordered on cliche.  I wasn’t too bothered by this since I enjoyed the journey getting there, but how awesome would it have been to have a truly shocking ending?

I definitely recommend The Candidate to anyone who enjoys a good political thriller and is looking for some fluffy intensity during the next couple of months counting down to the election.  The best praise I can give Harris is that I’d definitely read another novel he writes and hope he continues to fine tune his talent.

One lucky reader will get the chance to win their very own copy of The Candidate by clicking here and filling out the form.  I will be selecting a winner on Monday October 8th.  U.S. and Canada residents only, please.

GIVEAWAY CLOSED

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Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for the opportunity to receive a copy of The Candidate in exchange for my honest review.  Check out the other book tour blogs here!

PAUL HARRIS is a US Correspondent for The Observer, a British weekly that is the oldest Sunday newspaper in the world, and also its sister daily paper The Guardian. He has been based in the US for the past nine years covering all aspects of American political and cultural life from Hollywood stars to Washington politics. He is currently covering his third presidential election having previously reported on George W. Bush versus John Kerry in 2004 and John McCain versus Barack Obama in 2008. His experiences covering those races, especially the epic battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic nomination, were the inspiration for The Candidate.

Prior to his posting in the US, Harris was a journalist based in Britain and Africa. He has covered wars and conflicts in Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, South Africa and Sierra Leone. His first novel, The Secret Keeper, was set in Sierra Leone against the backdrop of that country’s brutal civil war. He lives in New York (but fantasizes about living in France).