Posts Tagged ‘Wiley Cash’

Tuesdays are hard for me. We have faculty meetings on Tuesdays which keep me at work up to two hours late add that to my 30 minute commute and any errands I have to run and the mess that I-77 leading into Charlotte becomes in the afternoons, then you’ll understand why it’s all I can do to eat a dinner and then fall asleep with the fork still in my mouth. My TTT will most likely come more and more on Wednesdays and usually a week later than what they are doing over at The Broke and The Bookish. (*note, I started this post on Wednesday night and I came into my office to look up a menu for a local Greek restaurant and discovered that I had never finished the post (a impromtu tennis game pulled me away mid-post Wednesday night) and so now you’ll see just how late I can be…)

I have read 69 (I know, right, that number seems so small) since I started Bookjackets in January 2011. Picking out ten favorites was harder than I thought that it would be! I started by circling the ones I loved and then I had to compare them up against each other and give them ratings based on things like “characterization” “plot” “readability”, etc. to get it narrowed down to the following ten:

10. If You Want Me To Stay by Michael Parker, Read February 7-8 2012, 5/5 Stars
I read this book for a program I was involved in at the local public library. The program involved a group of us reading the same book about some aspect of North Carolina culture and then inviting in a guest lecturer to discuss the book and the themes and the history of NC with us. This was my favorite book from the series.

9. Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, Read February-March 2011, 4/5 Stars
This was another book that we read for the same NC Culture series, but I had read this one about a year before the series actually started. When my dad gave me a nook color for my 26th birthday this was the first book I read on the e-reader. Read more about that adventure here.

8. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley, Read April 2011, 4/5 Stars
I read this book over spring break my first year of working as a librarian in public schools. I was back in my favorite town, Greensboro, NC where I had gone to college and graduate school and where my boyfriend was still in college and I loved the feeling of being “home” and I associate that feeling with this book. I also loved the book, it is a good mystery and our sleuth, Flavia De Luce, is such a scamp I dare you not to love her instantly.

7. The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins
The Hunger Games, Read November 2010, 5/5 Stars
Catching Fire, Read in April 2011, 5/5 Stars
Mockingjay, Read in May 2011, 4/5 Stars
Read about my love for this series here.

6. The Weight of Silence/These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf
The Weight of Silence, Read in July 2011, 3/5 stars
These Things Hidden, Read in July 2011, 5/5 stars
I read these over the summer after my first year in public education. I had greatly disliked the first place I worked at and I was in the process of quitting and moving to a new place of employment. I was having a difficult time telling my uber-scary boss that I was splitting, but these books were such a good escape for me at the end of the day, I truly value them for helping me get through that rough time.

5. Bossypants by Tina Fey, Read in April 2012, 5/5 Stars
Just. So. Damn. Funny. And honest. I love Tina Fey. She is my celebrity crush. She is so beautiful and funny and smart and nerdy and I want to be her. I loved this book because it was purely Tina Fey being open and honest about what it’s like being a woman working in a man’s world.

4. The Reeducation of Cherry Truong by Aimee Phan, Read in in late January/Early February 2012, 4/5 Stars
I received a ARC of this book from St. Martin’s Press and I wanted to do a good job of reviewing it, even if I disliked the book. This was the first time I had been asked to review a book for the blog, so I knew I couldn’t blow it. I ended up loving the book and I was pretty pleased with the review I put out. Read the review here.

3. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, 5/5 Stars
I. Loved. This. Book. Read about how much I loved it here. I even voted it my #1 book of 2011!

2. A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, Read in July 2012, 5/5 Stars
This is a more recent read. I had been hearing a little bit about it and I knew I wanted to read it because I love local authors and books set in my state. I was in love with this book from page one. Read my review here. Also, my book club has chosen to read this one in January 2013 and I’m hoping to get Cash to Skype with us, he tweeted me that he would!! Read the review here.

1. Becoming Odyssa by Jennifer Pharr Davis, Read in February 2011 , 5/5 Stars
Again, I am super partial to local authors and Jenn Pharr Davis is one of my favorites! This is the story of a gal who sets out to thru-hike the entire AT by herself and she accomplishes her goal and tells us about all of the incidents she survives in this awesome book. This is a fun read and an encouraging read. I recently saw that there is a new book out by her husband, Brew Davis, that chronicles the hike that landed her the world-record of the fastest thru-hike of the AT which she did in an amazing 46 days!


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With a holy host of others standin’ around me, still I’m on the dark side of the moon, and it seems like it goes on like this forever
you must forgive me, if I’m up and gone to Carolina in my mind. -James Taylor
Brava, Wiley Cash on your stunning debut A Land More Kind Than Home. I surely hope that this is the beginning of a long and successful career for this writer! It was hard for me to believe that this book was a debut from Wiley Cash. It’s not often that an authors first novel is as compelling and thought provoking and real and honest as A Land More Kind Than Home was. This book stuck with me and I don’t believe it did so because of my crippiling fear of all things snakes, but I think it was more to do with Mr. Cash’s writing style and his ability to make the characters part of you.

This is the story of a dysfunctional farm family living in Marshall, North Carolina.

There is a father who has lost his faith (and it’s a wonder he ever had any to begin with since his own father was an abusive drunk), a filandering and naive mother who can’t love her husband or her children because she is so blinded by her faith, a son who has been mute and slow since he was born, and another son who is (at the beginning, at least) the only disaffected one of the bunch, but don’t worry, that’ll change by the end of the novel. One day the two boys discover a secret that is held by their mother and the local Pastor. The mother and the two sons attend one of “those” Pentecostal churches that used to be more common out in the NC Mountains (and Georgia, Tennessee, and West Virginia too). You know the kind that are based only around Mark 16: 17-18:

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons;they will speak in new tongues;18 they will pick up snakeswith their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands onsick people, and they will get well.”


During one church service a child dies and the book then begins to provoke thoughts on such things as is it right or wrong to have children in those dangerous services with poisionous snakes and Strychnine swallowing? Is it murder if someone dies during a sermon? Was it the fault of a the brother who withheld information that could have prevented the child from even going into the church that day? Should the people of this religion be allowed to worship in this way or would revoking that right be revoking their freedom of religion? I don’t have all the answers to these questions, and neither did Cash and neither did any of the characters in his book. That’s what made the book so good and so authentic is that the characters didn’t behave in a way that we wouldn’t expect them to, they were raw characters with real emotions and reactions to the events unfolding around them. Having grown up in Western NC, I believe that Cash probably did what all great writers are told to do and that is “write what you know.” It was not at all difficult for me to believe that this story is probably one that was very real and very close to Cash and his upbringing.

I’m really glad that I checked this book out from the library at the same time I also checked out Ron Rash’s The Cove. These two books were so close to each other (both had a mute in them!) and both captured the feel and the setting of Appalachian North Carolina to a T. My aunt happens to live in Marshall, North Carolina and I love going to spend time up there. I remember one summer when she pointed out some of the Pentecostal Churches in the area that practiced serpent handling and poison drinking. I also remember meeting the people in the town and they are all just like the characters in this book. As I was reading both  books I found myself picturing the people that I had met there as the characters and the homes that I had been invited into there in Marshall as the settings. Perhaps having spent a good deal of time in this area made the book pop more for me and made it seem more like it was actually happening instead of a work of fiction.

So, would I recommend this book (and The Cove)? I absolutley do. And, in fact, I’m going to e-mail the moderator of my book club after I finish this post and let her know that I want to lead a discussion on A Land More Kind Than Home at one of our upcoming meetings. The book has violence all through it, and, like I mentioned earlier, (ugghhh) snakes. I have a horrible, paralyzing, awful fear of snakes and there were a lot of dangerous ones in this book, but the worst one of all is the Pastor of the church. I knew from the first time he was introduced that he was one bad dude, and he only got worse as the book progressed. Do you remember that guy that started up a cult and then he convinced all of his followers that he was Jesus Christ and then he made them (babies and all) drink the Kool-Aid? Yeah, that was this guy, just not on as big of a scale. Pastor Carson Chambliss ruined everything he touched including the church, the town, and an already struggling family. Don’t get to frettin’ none yet (did I mention that I am also from North Carolina, not western; coastal, actually, but NC all the same), the book had some good in it, too. We are told this story through three narrators- Adelaide Lyle who breaks from the church after the FIRST (yes, there is more than one) death and takes the children with her, Clem Barefield, the town sherrif who is trying to keep the peace of the town (and Marshall is such a peaceful little town) and do justice, and Jess Hall, the “normal” boy in the family. These three voices are honest and kind and good. Knowing that they want what is good and right to happen gives hope that there are angels and that not everyone is a devil like the Pastor.

Five out of Five stars to A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash
Four and a half out of Five stars to The Cove by Ron Rash

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I have been out of town since Friday visiting my mom for the last time this summer. Like I said in earlier entries, she has been extreamly sick this summer and consequently I have made the drive down to the coast to see her several times over the summer. However, I am back now and ready to resume blogging (I actually found myself missing doing my daily photo!). I finished up AWOL on the AT for bookclub (which meets Wednesday, and this is the first book I’ve actually finished since joining!). I’m going to save my review until after I meet with the club to insert some of their ideas and thoughts on the book into the review. 


Before heading out of town on Friday I had to run by the library and pick up two books that I had requested: The Cove by Ron Rash and A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash. Both of these books are set in the North Carolina Mountains which means I will most likely love them since I will be able to relate to the setting having been to those places many times in my life. I started The Cove yesterday and I am loving it so far. We still have so much to do with moving (the W/D should sell tonight, but this is our third try so we’ll see how that goes.) Anything that doesn’t sell tonight will get picked up by Habitat for Humanity tomorrow between 9 and 12, which sucks because we have no AC in the old place and won’t feel like sitting around for 3 hours waiting for the pick up guy. Might be a good chance to get some reading done in a free sauna though!

Anyway, please excuse my reprieve but know that I am back now and the daily photos will pick up today! Be on the lookout for a good one this afternoon/early evening! I’m off to go take the photo now!

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