General Fiction (Adult), Mystery, Southern Fiction, Thriller

Paper Gods by Goldie Taylor

Paper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and PoliticsPaper Gods: A Novel of Money, Race, and Politics by Goldie Taylor

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Let me just start with a thank you to St. Martin’s Press for this surprise I found on my doorstep recently. After opening the package (book mail is the best!), I immediately added it to my stack.

The first thing that intrigued me about this book was the gorgeous cover. The Atlanta skyline at night is the perfect backdrop for this political thriller set in Atlanta. And this book is very “Atlanta.”  From the geographic descriptions to the narration to the discussions of race, I could feel the Atlanta vibe from start to finish.

The book begins with a bang when a prominent Georgia congressman is murdered. What follows is a twisted web of corruption sprinkled with money, power, and more murder as Victoria Dobbs, the mayor of Atlanta, announces her plan to run for the now-open seat.

I haven’t read an overtly political book in a long time and I really enjoyed it. Goldie Taylor really hit the nail on the head with her descriptions of the election process and the stress and pressure of the campaign. I really enjoyed the look into the corrupt world of politics and the attitude that some will do anything in their power to win.

Goldie Taylor’s writing was wonderful. She was extremely descriptive and thorough in her prose, and I enjoyed the character dialogue as well. It is definitely one of those books that requires all of your attention though so wasn’t necessarily a quick read for me. I needed some time to process the complicated relationships and events throughout to make sure I really understood what was going on. If you zone out for just a minute, you will be lost.

I did feel in the beginning that there were maybe a tad too many characters and was having a hard time keeping everybody straight, but by the end it cleared up. And while the book itself was a page turner for me, I found the ending to be a tad underwhelming and perhaps even a bit predictable. While there were a few twists along the way, I still found myself waiting for a big, surprising reveal, and it just didn’t happen. But that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the story. I still found it entertaining overall and would recommend to anybody who enjoys political thrillers or wants to read a book solidly rooted in Atlanta.

-I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Goldie Taylor and St. Martin’s Press for the opportunity to review.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Southern Fiction

Rush by Lisa Patton

RushRush by Lisa Patton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Expected publication August 21st!

Before I get into the full review, let me quickly describe rush in a few words: charming, lovely, and reminiscent.

Rush is a story told from multiple perspectives, but simply put, the novel revolves around the sorority rush (i.e. recruitment) process at Ole Miss. The perspectives showcased are those of the housekeeper at the Alpha Delta Beta house, the Alpha Delta Beta legacy and mother of a potential new member (i.e. rushee), and a college freshman entering the rush process.

The way Lisa Patton told this story was fantastic. Her ability to integrate big social topics into the story such as race, health benefits, the 1% v. the 99%, etc. while still keeping the story very light and fresh was incredible. It would be very easy for some of the heavier social issues to have taken the book in a dark direction, but her use of positivity and messages of hope kept it from being steered down the wrong path. I must admit that when I was in my sorority, I never took the time to consider the lives of the folks that helped our house run: our house mother, our cooks, our housekeeper, and so many others. This book really opened my eyes.

On a more personal note, when I read this book I felt like I was transported back to 2006 when I rushed my sorority. The descriptions of the rush process, the feeling of sisterhood, and the world Lisa Patton created within the house were spot-on. I’m confident that any other person reading this review who has been through the Panhellenic rush process would feel the same. I remember the fun times attending football games, Greek Week, parties, formals, sitting in the living room of our 100+ year-old house watching Grey’s Anatomy on the only TV that had cable, seeing boys slide out of gals’ rooms late at night trying not to get caught by our house mother, having the fraternity rushees run naked through our house when they lost a game of beer pong, chapter meetings, “family” dinners, and so many more amazing memories that made my time at Michigan special.

While I did see incredible similarities between this book and my own experience in Greek life, there were also many elements that made the book uniquely Southern. Taking place on the Ole Miss campus, Lisa Patton gave it a southern flare. The dialogue was done in a way that made the reader feel like they were talking to an African American woman from the deep south or an old time Southern belle. There were also southern touches such as girls getting dressed in their Sunday best for football games (up in the North we typically wore T-shifts or hoodies as opposed to dresses).

I loved the atmosphere that was created and the story was done well. I only gave it 4 stars because it didn’t “blow me away” but it was very good! I also think it’s very smart of Lisa Patton and St. Martin’s Press to release the book in August when the new batch of freshman girls and guys will be starting their journey into Greek life. This is the perfect book to curl up with in the late summer/early fall when college campuses all across the country are coming back to life.

-I was gifted this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an advanced copy and thank you to Lisa Patton for her wholehearted interpretation of the Greek system.-

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General Fiction (Adult), Southern Fiction

Slightly South of Simple (Peachtree Bluff #1) by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Slightly South of Simple (Peachtree Bluff #1)Slightly South of Simple by Kristy Woodson Harvey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The perfect summer read!

I was looking for a little lighthearted relief from the string of dark and twisty mystery/thrillers I’ve been reading lately, and Slightly South of Simple was just what I needed. As a Southern Fiction novel, it had the right amount of Southern charm, but also contained some very real and emotional content.

I instantly related to one of the book’s main characters, Caroline, the Northern, urban, New York City gal who finds herself back in her mother’s hometown of Peachtree Bluff, Georgia after being utterly humiliated when her marriage falls apart in a very public fashion. Not the Southern type, she finds it hard to leave NYC but needs to escape her life for a while. As a born and bred Michigander turned Tennessean, I could totally relate to the culture shock Caroline experienced when she wound up living in a small Georgia town (although, let’s be real, I live in Nashville so it’s a tad different).

Meanwhile, Caroline’s two sisters, one whose military husband is deployed for the millionth time leaving her to tend to the kids, and another whose Hollywood dreams have led to the filming of a new movie just outside of Peachtree Bluff, both end up temporarily making the journey to Georgia as well. Suddenly their mother Ansley finds her house full of children and grandchildren, and the secrets held within Peachtree Bluff begin to reveal themselves.

To be completely honest, I had no idea this was part of a series when I began reading it (luckily I picked book #1 in the series, huh?). And now I can’t wait to read the rest. This book was narrated primarily by Caroline and her mother Ansley. However, I opened book #2, The Secret to Southern Charm, immediately after finishing and it appeared as if it was narrated by Sloane, one of the other sisters. I am assuming that perhaps each book is written from a different sister’s perspective which is pretty interesting.

This was an extremely quick and easy read, and would make the perfect companion for a day at the beach, or for sitting on the front porch on a sunny day. Kudos to Kristy Woodson Harvey on this charming Southern gem.

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