Okra Picks Challenge Wrap-Up

The Okra Picks Challenge ended on March 31 (where did the time go?!) so I thought I’d do a wrap-up post.  I committed to the “Goober” level: read 1-3 books.  My result: I read 2.  You can read more about the challenge here and my review links here.

Thanks to Kathy at BermudaOnion’s Weblog for hosting the challenge.  I enjoyed it and will check out more of the challenge authors in the future.

 

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

Title: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Author: Tom Franklin

Genre: Fiction

About: (from Goodreads)  In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

My thoughts: I loved being immersed in the southern Mississippi rural landscape of country dark nights, snakes, kudzu, and unsolved mysteries.  Well, I didn’t enjoy the snakes so much.

“Scary Larry” Ott is the prime suspect in the recent disappearance of a local college student.  He is still considered the only suspect in a similar crime twenty years earlier but a body was never found so he couldn’t be charged.

Constable Silas “32” Jones is busy trying to solve other recent violent crimes when he becomes involved in the latest case involving Larry Ott.  He and Larry have a history that Franklin slowly reveals to the reader.  In fact,  this novel is as much about relationships as it is about the crime.  It’s about long held secrets and the lies told to cover them up.

I really enjoyed Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.  It’s the first of Tom Franklin’s books that I’ve read and I look forward to more.

Rating: Keeper shelf.

Recommend? Yes, to fans of a good atmospheric story.

Source: I bought it.

The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

Title: The Perfect Love Song

Author: Patti Callahan Henry

Genre: Fiction

About: (book blurb) Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again —their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina —he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington. With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the ““Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme. All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away. Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees —with the help of a Christmas miracle or two —that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

Descriptive Words: A sweet and magical tale of love and forgiveness.

Thoughts: Grab a cup of tea and curl up with this love story.  If you read the author’s novel When Light Breaks you’ll be pleased to know that characters from that book are in The Perfect Love Song. Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan are musicians on the rise to fame.  They also happen to love Charlotte and Kara who are best friends.  One Christmas Jimmy’s gift to Charlotte is a song that he wrote.  That song eventually attracts attention from a concert producer which changes things for the brothers, their band, and most importantly, Jimmy and Charlotte.

This is a light tale of love and forgiveness and the chance that is taken by being open to both.  I enjoyed the magical, almost mythical, tone of the novel. I wasn’t sure who the narrator was until the end but it made sense and made me smile.  I wish the main characters had been a bit more developed.  I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t read When Light Breaks, the fact that it’s a short book (224 pages), or if it’s just me,  but I didn’t connect with them.  That said, if you’re looking for a bit of an escape during the busy holidays, this could be the book for you.

Source: Library

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Why I Chose: I’ve enjoyed other books by the author;  it’s on the Okra Picks challenge list.

Recommend? Maybe, to fans of Patti Callahan Henry and a sweet love story.


Okra Picks Challenge

I’ve decided to sign up for another reading challenge.  Kathy of Bermudaonion’s Weblog is hosting the Okra Picks Challenge.

Kathy attended the recent Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance trade show and explains: “Each season, SIBA selects a dozen Southern books to handsell and those books are called Okra Picks.   Okra Picks authors are given a sash to wear at the trade show, and believe me when I tell you those sashes are worn with pride!”

You can click here to get the challenge details and the list of Okra Picks.

I’ll aim for the Goober level 🙂 (1-3 books) and will list the books here:

1.  The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

2.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by Tom Franklin

3.

Challenge runs from Oct.1, 2010 to March 31, 2011