“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 […]

August Read of the Month: “The Nickel Boys,” by Colson Whitehead

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Colson Whitehead once more proves the sheer power of his talent with The Nickel Boys (Doubleday, 2019), a heartbreaking, chilling story about an innocent black youth sent to a hellish reform school in North Florida during the Jim Crow days. While the book is fiction, what makes it so devastating […]

“The Leaf Does Not Believe It Will Fall,” By Marina Brown

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Marina Brown’s The Leaf Does Not Believe It Will Fall is, in a word, genuine. Written with heartfelt honesty and thoughtful insights, this collection of poetry is both eloquent and graceful. Brown’s poems find that delicate balance between exposure and restraint, leaving a touch of mystery. The craftsmanship is consistently […]

“Stars of Alabama,” by Sean Dietrich

Reviewed by Claire Hamner Matturro Sean Dietrich’s Stars of Alabama is a beautiful novel, mesmerizing with its complex characters, lush settings, and lyrical language. It is, quite simply, Southern literature at its finest. Written with wisdom, insight, and captivating diction, it is poignant and hopeful, engaging and vivid, full of people who might have died […]