Authors Showcase: Too Many Secrets
January 10, 2013
The Book: Josephine: Red Dirt and Whiskey
The Author: Melinda McGuire
So begins the secretive story of Josephine Killian Johnson, a young widow, alone in rural northeast Texas during the Great Depression.
Josephine can cuss a blue streak, out drink a grown man, and smoke cigarettes as fast as she can roll them, but only in private.
In public, Josephine goes to church, drives the old women to the quilting circle, and donates to the needy, until Ethan comes along.
The lust Ethan ignites within Josephine threatens to bring all her secrets to light.
Review by Louisiana Lady: Melinda McGuire creates characters that are easy to identify with, then weaves them into a story that you can’t seem to put down. Being that the book is set during the Depression, I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but let me say, I was pleasantly surprised! The story follows the life of Josephine, a poor, young woman who is forced to deal with abandonment over and over again. She has no family to turn to, so her comfort and guidance largely comes from her church.
An older, patient gentleman assumes the role of Josephine’s caregiver, but it’s not until he’s gone that Josephine discovers that she still has a lot to learn about the more pleasurable, indulgent side of life. Ethan, a smooth-talking and very handsome man, is more than willing to help Josephine discover emotions and sensations that she never thought possible. However, there’s a price to pay for her sexual awakening.
Another thing that I really like about this novel is the way the author writes the more passionate scenes. They are quite steamy, yet not extremely vulgar or lewd. Case in point, Josephine’s repeated reference to sexual intimacy as “That”. Loved it!
Excellent dialogue, excellent plot, excellent read!!
Review by Greg Wilcoxson: This author uses words with the all care of an artist, with purpose and the economy born of skill. I became so entwined with Josephine that I fully expected to find red clay on my shoes as I followed her through the labyrinth of a desperate mind. I was repulsed by this character’s obsession, yet still could not turn away from her downward spiral. Set against a backdrop of Depression-era characters and setting, this story leads the reader down a dark but enticing path. It’s the kind of story that doesn’t end with the last page; instead, it’s one that will leave the reader thinking for quite a while. I highly recommend Josephine for lovers of literature.
The Book: Breathe
The Author: Elena Dillon
The Story: Jasmine’s life wasn’t normal for a 16 year old girl. It hadn’t been normal since the murder of her older sister, Daisy, two years ago. Her life had been changed forever. The monster that murdered Daisy was never caught. That was the reason her family decided to move away from their hometown in Southern California, to start over. Hopefully in a place where the last name Rourke wouldn’t bring on staring or judgment or morbid curiosity.
In Lafayette, Louisiana things are quite a bit different but in a good way. Good manners, Cajun accents and a whole lot of Southern Hospitality all make her think things are going in the right direction. On top of that the most gorgeous boy she has ever met is interested in her. Her new friends are better than she could have hoped for even if she is worried about what they might think when they find out who she is. Life would be perfect if odd things didn’t keep happening. Creepy phone calls, texts, and flowers in her locker start adding up quickly to something terrifying. Could the Monster have followed them to Lafayette? Was he coming after her this time? Maybe she was just worrying unnecessarily…or not.
Review by Clare Chu: This book pulled me in from the very first line: “Most days I can almost forget someone murdered my sister.”
Jasmine wanted to be an ordinary teenager, like everyone else, but the fact that her sister’s murderer had never been caught and the incessant media attention on her and her family meant they were always on edge. She and her family moves from Burbank, California to a small town in Louisiana. For the first time, she could be anonymous, the new girl in school, unburdened from her past.
I cheered for Jasmine as she made new friends, took on a lot of responsibility for her younger siblings, and falls for the hottest guy on campus. Little things disturbed me and I knew the drama would not be over. However the author painted life in the small town vividly and still gave time for pranks, pep rallies, and normal girltalk. She contrasted the familiarity of the small town where residents knew each other for generations and were often related, with the impersonal atmosphere of California.
Once I hit 55% I knew I wouldn’t sleep until I completed the book. The villain was cold and calculating, and the story unfolded in an edge-of-your-seat cat and mouse game. The narrator’s voice was authentic and engaging, and I absolutely loved the boys in the story, from the loquacious Trenton to the bratty younger brother to the heart-throb boyfriend.
Extremely well done and fast paced, with a heroine you can’t help loving and rooting for.
Review by Missy Frye: This book is immensely hard to put down once you start reading. From the first line the reader is pulled into a world with both jubilant and nightmarish characteristics. There’s no time to pause; you must continue on the journey you began without rest, just as the main character does. And what a character she is…
Jasmine is a perfectly blended personality. She’s real. Believable. She’s a teenager with the same worries and fears as her peers. Does the cutest boy in school like me? Will I make the track team? But there is also something dark inside, a survival instinct that her friends have never needed to cultivate.
The story moves quickly and the plot points are flawlessly placed. Dillon uses the setting to create an atmosphere both idyllic and terrifying. She uses southern charm to its fullest and as someone from the South I can say she hit the nail on the head. (Though there are plenty of folks the complete opposite of the characters, just as in any region)
Breathe is a near faultless work of reading enjoyment and I recommend it highly.