Thursday, 3 September 2015

Alabama Stories (Review & Giveaway!)

Hey there!

Title: Alabama Stories
Author: John Isaac Jones
Publisher: Self-published
Published Date:1st February 2006
Rating: 4 stars

*Thank you to the author for the review copy*

Synopsis: Alabama Stories is a collection of short works lifted from the life of native son William Vernon “Billy” Johnson. Haunting, harrowing and gloriously-moving, these stories represent an intense examination of Billy’s childhood and young adult years in the Cotton State.

Meet the colorful characters Billy knew during his Alabama years. There was Boone, the tight-lipped, physically and emotionally crippled farmer who had a psychotic love for his invalid wife. You will never forget Annie, the lonely, tragic former actress who desperately wanted a child. Meet Bobby Worthington, the high school football star who dreamed of playing for Paul “Bear” Bryant. There was Virgil, the wildly successful Baptist evangelist who could never quite quench his thirst for black girls. Meet Charley, Billy’s angel unaware….

These are only a few of the strangely-wonderful characters who will step into your life when you read this book. Each and every one of these stories brings its own special flavor of Alabama to life and places it in direct context with the universal human experience.

Review: I’m not quite sure how to review this book, and I find it’s actually one of the hardest reviews I have to write! I actually really did enjoy reading this book, which was for some reason pretty unexpected. It’s a collection of short stories, and some of them are linked to each other with an underlying main character called Billy. But some of them have nothing to do with Billy at all and seem to just be short stories.

This book is definitely what I would define a character driven read to be. I think if you are a more plot-driven reader than this book may not be for you. As soon as I started reading I was unable to stop – completely immersed in the stories. I think the way the author manages to connect you to the emotions and the experiences of all the characters – even those you only know for a short while – was amazing. I read this book in one sitting and was up till 4:30am to finish reading it xD

When the book turned out better than I anticipated it to be. 
The characters were incredibly well done, but as well as that the stories were too. We get a little taste of almost every theme. To list just a few we cover: love, marriage, divorce, family, friendship, asexuality, loneliness and so many other things! This one is a bit of a historical fiction because it is set in the 1900’s and we get a story about negroes and their fight for rights as well. There are two stories where murder is involved as well, and a story about pool. I’m not even interested in pool in the slightest, but when I was reading that story I frankly didn’t care!

There is a mention of religion in this book, and personally I didn’t quite like how it was handled. I could see a general opinion of religion running through it and that was the one generally stuck to. But that was a personal thing and I doubt it will bother many other readers. But it did a good job of showing that even people who are “supposed” to be good, for example the president let’s say, or a teacher, or generally someone in a role like that, can be bad and have their downfalls as well.

I have talked to the author and he really is a nice person. I do think this book needs more attention and more people enjoying it, so do pick it up if you think you might enjoy it!

Links: Goodreads and Amazon!

Giveaway! Enter to win one of five signed paperback copies of Alabama Stories! Open internationally, courtesy of the author. 



Olivia’s Question: If you had to explain the definition or the meaning of life, how would you explain it?

Olivia-Savannah x

32 comments:

  1. I'm not a big fan of short stories mainly because I've never given them a proper try. Most of the time, I read some and find myself wanting for more but I'm slowly giving them a chance and I have a few short story collections that I wanna try. Your review was lovely as usual and isn't it great when the book turns out better than you expected it? And regarding your question, I don't even know how to answer it LOL I'm still trying to understand the meaning of life myself if I'm honest

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    1. I didn't before, but I have been getting into them more all the time, lately. I am glad that you are trying them out. I love it when books are better than I think they were going to be ^.^

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  2. Great to hear that the characters were really well done even if the religion didn't feel the best handled to you

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    1. Yeah, the religion aspect was a bit of a shame, but I got over it xD I did love the characters though <3

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  3. Hi! I'd love to read this book. I love short stories. I have never been to Alabama so maybe this could help me know the area a bit. Best regards from Barcelona, Spain,
    Marta

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    1. I have never been to Alabama either! We are similar in that way.

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  4. Sounds great and your review definitely makes me want to read it! Thanks to the author for the international giveaway :)

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  5. It must be pretty amazing to cause you to want to read it in one sitting and to stay up till 4:30 am to do that. :)
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal - Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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    1. Yes, it was so good! I don't usually stay up for most books... and well, especially short story ones. But this one was a keeper :D

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  6. Hooray for Alabama! If you didn't know, that's my home state. Lots of history here, a lot that makes me cry. I really miss my grandmother, because she used to tell us all kinds of stories growing up. There have been lots of controversial headlines from ALabama. Especially during the Civil Rights movement. This looks like a great read filled with some memorable characters. Hmm, I'd have to really see if this is my thing; although I do love short stories. Great review!

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    1. Ooh, this is new information to me. I do get the impression that there was a lot of history there that I read about. But personal history is another thing entirely. There was mention of the Civil Rights movement as well. That whole movement is emotional for me in a general sense...

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    2. Yes, very emotional history. I know that you understand it. A lot has changed here in the South, but then again, it hasn't. There are some very prejudiced people here and It's really sad. There are parts of Alabama that I would be afraid to be caught stuck in. Smaller towns with small minded people, is not where an African-American should be. Not even a stop for gas. It's like the 50's!

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    3. I have heard stories about how it is still pretty bad a lot in the South, in some places. It kind of saddens me that we haven't gotten over the whole thing yet - even in many other countries. But then the change since then in some other parts has been phenomenal, and I am always grateful when I think about that.

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  7. It's super awesome to hear that you loved this so much girl! I'm usually not a 'short story' rule of gal even though I am short ironically. ;) it seems like you had an awesome time with it even when your expectations going into weren't all that high. With all the underlying themes in it, it had to have made it a very diverse and very unique reading experience for you girl. ♡

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    1. Ahaha, likewise, I used to not be so much for it, but I am finding that if they are done well I don't mind them so much and can even enjoy them :) So many themes <3 I loved them all <3

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  8. Sometimes a character driven story is just what the doctor ordered! Glad to see you getting into short stories!

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    1. After your review of that one, I have been experimenting some more in them. So thanks for that! x

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  9. Sounds like a great book and an equally wonderful review :-)

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  10. This book has a really great storyline and I would love to read it.

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    1. With or without the giveaway, I hope you do pick it up at some point.

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  11. The characters do sound really well done and enjoyable to read about

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  12. [ Smiles ] Another book that is worth reading!

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  13. Sounds like a good read. Thanks for the review.

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  14. looks great, would love to settle with this on the sofa xx

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