The Strange Birds of Flannery O’Connor #AmyAlznauer, #PingZhu – illustrator #SundayMorningforKids

Sat morning kids(1)

Oh wow! As a life long fan of Flannery O’Connor and her brilliant and, yes, odd work, I had to read this book!

“I intend to stand firm and let the peacocks multiply, for I am sure that, in the end, the last word will be theirs.” —Flannery O’Connor

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The story itself is based on O’Connor’s fascination/obsession with the odd bird or two or ten. Featured in many of her writings, peacocks, chickens who performed tricks and many more, were an important part of her life and actually led to her interest in writing as well, particularly about those who might seem different to most readers.

This is for young readers so the writing is simple but not silly. The illustrations are absolutely stunning and what an marvelous introduction for children to one of the best writers the US has known. I cannot recommend this book highly enough!

Amy Alznauer lives in Chicago with her husband, two children, a dog, a parakeet, sometimes chicks, and a part-time fish, but, as of today, no elephants or peacocks.

Ping Zhu is a freelance illustrator who has worked with clients big and small, won some awards based on the work she did for aforementioned clients, attracted new clients with shiny awards, and is hoping to maintain her livelihood in Brooklyn by repeating that cycle.

Thank you to #Edelweiss the author and illustrator and to #EnchantedLionBooks for my copy of this incredible book!

Don’t Let Go: World Noir by Michel Bussi, translation by Sam Taylor

If you’ve read my blog or online reviews, you know that I adore World Noir, particularly Nordic Noir. The darker the plot, the better the book. Don’t Let Go by Michel Bussi is, simply put, one of the best world noir books that I’ve read.

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Set on Reunion Island, the backdrop of tropical and French cultures blend to create the perfect atmosphere for this fast paced thriller. Martial and his wife, Liane, are wealthy Parisians who are enjoying a holiday on the island. However, Liane disappears with no trace except bloods in their room. Setting up the timeline for her disappearance, it appears that Martial was the last one to see Liane before she vanishes. But there are secrets abounding and nothing is quite what it appears. What is Martial hiding and what does the hotel staff know that they aren’t sharing?

The story itself is intriguing and one that constantly keeps the reader guessing. Despite the laid back island setting, the book is fast paced, edge of your seat thrilling as Aja, the female detective in charge, races against time following the trail that Martial is setting down. The characters all are so real and relatable that even when one doubts Martial’s story, you still want everything to be okay in the end. But can it possibly turn out alright with a murderer on the lose? There are twists and turns, all of which lend to the credibility of the story line but serve to keep you turning pages until the very end. This is a fabulous read and one that you will not want to miss!

Thank you to #Edelweiss and #Ingram Publishing for my copy of Don’t Let Go. It is on sale now at your favorite retailer.

Kickdown by #RebeccaClaren

A hard, unvarnished look at America’s west during this modern era of climatic change.

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I appear to be making my way across the US as I read book after book concerning the middle regions of the nation – and let me tell you, the view is not a happy one. From Julia Keller’s horrifying, tale of the meth/opioid epidemic in West Virginia, to Stephen Markley’s book, Ohio, which examines the travesty of the “rust belt, I now have arrived in Colorado with Kickdown, a book that examines the hard decisions facing ranchers in America’s west.

When Jackie Dunbar’s father dies, she leaves medical school to return home to their family ranch. What she finds is a nightmare: the ranch is in disrepair and on the verge of bankruptcy; her sister is in the throes of a breakdown and everywhere she turns she sees the oil and gas companies raping the land. Jackie immediately begins work on the ranch in an attempt to bring it back to life. However, there is a “kickdown” at one of the gas wells nearby and Jackie’s world is immediately and irrevocably changed. A kickdown, by the way, is a build of gas in a well which sets off an explosion into the air which sends firebombs and noxious gas into the atmosphere.

Kickdown is the debut novel for Rebecca Clarren but it doesn’t read like one. The imagery and prose are intoxicating, the story is taut and vividly told. It is a tale of the growing economic crisis in the US and those who are affected by it most harshly – the people who have worked the land: ranchers, farmers, blue-collar workers. The book examines the tough reality of choosing between the land that you dearly love and the offers from corporations, gas hacks and others who have taken over the land in order to make a quick buck. Admittedly, I am not a fan of those who do this. However, Clarren walks a fine line of presenting both sides fairly well, perhaps too well for someone like me. I wanted more of a defining moment, a bigger stand against those who destroy the land; what we are given is, basically, what those who live in these areas are confronted with every day: a balance between loving the land and surviving. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the book, I did very much, and because it is not polarizing I’m sure that it will reach a larger audience.

If you are a fan of character driven novels, those that are told slowly, deliberately and quite fully, then I’m sure you enjoy Kickdown.

Thank you to #Edelweiss, #RebeccaClarren and #IngramPublisherServices for my copy of this book.