I recently closed a book. Closed it Dear Ones, not because I was finished, but because on page 106 the author wrote something that could not have happened. That which he wrote had not been invented.
I actually said, “Aw c’mon now. . . really? Please don’t let me down.”
He-who-shall-not-be-named has received critical acclaim for this book leaving me wondering, did I misinterpret the time frame? Perhaps this book is set in 2013. I re-read the back cover, the beginning, and a few introductory chapters then asked myself Am I the only person who knows this isn’t physically possible? As a reader I was hurt. Most avid readers have towering stacks of books and limited reading time. This is why I closed the book. Trust me, this hurt. I am injured because I loved the characters; I am wounded because the story had potential; I am angry because I was “all in” for one hundred and five pages. Here is the problem. If page 106 isn’t physically possible then neither is anything written afterward. (Pages 1 thru 105 are highly suspect as well). It is rare that I speak ill of a book. Rare because I know the arduous journey every single author makes from inspiration to publication. It is not my place to be critical. I am a mistake-maker also. Instead, I’ll just encourage y’all to pick up another stronger, better-written book.
I am not the kind of friend who will let you waste your precious time reading a bad book. That is why I’m sharing four books with you. Yes Dear Ones, four.
Let’s start with Jolina Petersheim’s book, The Outcast. The PR behind this book reads “A modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter.” Well, I guess I agree with that statement, in part. For me, The Outcast reminds me how difficult life is for single mothers. Even today women are burdened with poverty and loneliness while the men -who play a part in creating these outcast children- have minimal consequences. Society still punishes the women and children; the men, not-so-much. Jolina writes a popular blog and The Outcast is her debut novel. Take a chance on it. You’ll be glad you did.
Susan Reinhardt is what we call down here in the South “a hoot.” She and the Cracker Queen, Lauretta Hannon, should do a big ole southern tour. A columnist for the Asheville Citizen Times and Sarah Palin impersonator (no, I am not kidding), her latest novel Chimes from a Cracked Southern Belle provides exactly what the title implies, entertaining stories that y’all know happen every single day in the South. She writes the same way we talk; only we whisper our words. Susan shouts prose atop a unicycle (again, not kidding). Read an excerpt here (Swoon alert: the excerpt isn’t for “proper” Southern Belles). You must order yourself and a friend a copy of Chimes.
Ann Hite blew my hair back with the release of Ghost on Black Mountain, a book that won her the Georgia Author of the Year Award. If you haven’t read this book then you are missing out on one of the best books of last year. I remember as I neared the end of Ghost I said, “Brilliant, Ann. Just. brilliant. You weren’t predictable. You landed this plane without a bump.”
At the time I didn’t know Ann from Adam. Today, I couldn’t even tell you how we met. I only know that she’s the real deal. I’ve got to say that I take issue with those who compare Ann’s work to others. I take issue because Ann has worked hard to create her own voice. I believe it is disrespectful to compare her, or any other author, to another. Her voice, her work is unique. This Little-Author-That-Could has two releases churning hot off the press: The Story Catcher and a novella titled, Low Country Spirit. Her collection makes readers sit up straight and beg for more. Be sure to click this link to listen to Low Country Spirit. One listen and you’ll be calling your favorite Indie Bookstore begging them to order all three.
Y’all do know that Indie Bookstores will order books for you…right? Just give them a call. Some even ship books to your door. Find your Indie here.
Balancing the group is Karen Spears Zacharias. Karen is a mother and a patriot. She has a journalist’s heart and has written an armful of non-fiction books. Her works of non-fiction prick the heart, call us to action and make us want to be better people. I’ve got to be honest with y’all, from the moment I heard Karen was writing her breakout novel I have been waiting for the release of Mother of Rain. In fact, when I learned that another author got a sneak-peak of the manuscript I had myself a big ole pouting spell, even sent Karen an email titled “pouting.” My little episode earned me the ultimate sneak-peak of Mother of Rain.
Glory be! I sat up the entire night, devouring Maizee Hurd’s story. I placed sticky notes in places I wanted to revisit. I clutched my heart. I fell, headlong into the manuscript. The next day I sent Karen an email, a long rambling mess of an email telling her how much I loved the characters. I wrote about Burdy and Leela-Mai. I demanded, yes, demanded to know when Karen planned on writing the sequel. Friends, this is the book to read. I haven’t been this excited about a breakout novel in a long time.
Now Karen hasn’t posted an excerpt on her website, so I’m going to have to do my best to tell you about Mother of Rain without giving away the prize. Maizee Hurd is like many women of Appalachia in the 40s. She has a hard life. Her husband is fighting in World War II, and her beloved son Rain is rendered deaf after an illness. Back then, living in the hollers of Appalachia wasn’t easy even under the best circumstances. Karen doesn’t gloss over the hardships. Her voice is authentic, draws you into the Christian Bend community and plunks you down in a rocking chair. Trust me Dear Ones, you must add Mother of Rain to your reading list. In fact, you should order it directly from Mercer University Press by clicking this link.
I hope you will buy all of these books. They are each well written with strong prose and unforgettable characters.
Renea Winchester is the award-winning author of In the Garden with Billy: Lessons About Life, Love & Tomatoes and Stress-free Marketing: Practical Advice for the Newly Published Author. Her latest release: Farming, Friends & Friend Bologna Sandwiches will be released in 2014. She loves hearing from you. Visit her website at reneawinchester.com or follow her on Twitter at Reneawinchester