“Falling Apart, Radiant,” by Mary Jane Ryals

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro In her newest chapbook, Falling Apart, Radiant, Mary Jane Ryals offers us poems of resiliency which resonate with tenderness and intimacy about what it means to live, suffer, get up and do it all again.  Ryals invites her readers in for a close look at her fight against cancer, but […]

“Legacy of Lies,” by Robert Bailey

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Make no mistake, Robert Bailey knows how to write a dynamic, riveting legal thriller with depth and emotional integrity. He’s proved this before with his award-winning, best-selling McMurtrie and Drake legal series. As Southern Literary Review previously noted, this is an author who knows how to put the thrill back […]

February Read of the Month: “Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel,” by James Markert

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Lush, mystical, and complex, Midnight at the Tuscany Hotel by Kentucky author James Markert is a stunning book. It begins with a foundling child abandoned at an orphanage in Florence, Italy, 1866, and ends on a California cliff in modern times—but oh what a journey the author takes his readers […]

“Catacombs,” by Mary Anna Evans

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Below the surface in Oklahoma City, a vast system of catacombs exists where a community of Chinese people once lived underground in the early twentieth century. These catacombs are not fiction, though the book Catacombs (Poisoned Pen, 2019) is. Mary Anna Evans, the author of Catacombs, explains, “The parts of […]

“Never Have I Ever,” by Joshilyn Jackson

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro With her debut novel some fourteen years ago, Joshilyn Jackson established herself as a phenomenal author. In that debut, gods in Alabama (Warner Books, 2005), pathos, suspense, and humor were well balanced in a story about a young woman gone north, only to return home to Alabama to confront the […]

November Read of the Month: “The Winter Sisters,” by Tim Westover

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Tim Westover’s newest book, The Winter Sisters (QW Publishers, 2019), is a mesmerizing gem of a novel. It’s a hard book to classify, though. The time frame makes it a historical novel, while the relationship between two of its main characters develops into an unusual love story. Yet the magical […]

“Feral, North Carolina, 1965,” by June Sylvester Saraceno

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Feral, North Carolina, 1965 (Southern Fried Karma, 2019) is a powerful gem.  Told with wit and verve, the novel unfolds in vignettes that read like short stories, and in fact, many chapters were previously published as short stories. Feral captures a time and place with impeccable world building, astute observations, […]

October Read of the Month: “Trouble in Action,” by Susan Y. Tanner

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Susan Y. Tanner’s Trouble in Action (KaliOka Press July 8, 2019), book ten of Familiar Legacy mystery series, is as captivating and well-written as her prior two entries in the series, Trouble in Summer Valley and Turning for Trouble. While holding on to the charms of her prior cozy mystery/romantic […]