Quick Thoughts On: The Cutting Season, The Lotus Eaters & Heading Out to Wonderful

The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: September 2012
Categories: Mystery & Detective, History

In Black Water Rising, Attica Locke made one of the most stunning fiction debuts in recent memory. Now she returns with The Cutting Season, a riveting thriller that intertwines two murders separated by over a century.

Caren Gray manages Belle Vie, a sprawling antebellum plantation-turned-tourist attraction where the past and the present coexist uneasily. Outside the gates, an ambitious corporation has been snapping up sugar cane fields from struggling families, replacing local employees with illegal laborers. Tensions mount when the body of a female migrant worker is found in a shallow grave on the property, her throat cut clean.
The police zero in on a suspect but Caren fears they’re chasing the wrong leads. Putting herself at risk, she unearths startling new facts about the long-ago disappearance of a former slave that has unsettling ties to the modern-day crime. In pursuit of the truth about Belle Vie’s history—and her own—Caren discovers secrets about both cases that an increasingly desperate killer will do anything to keep hidden.
My Quick Thoughts:
  • An African American narrator. That is too rare in my reading life.
  • I love me some historical fiction, especially when it’s this good.
  • Ooooh, twists and turns that I didn’t see coming!
  • Social justice! 
  • Hmm, the ending. I’m not sure I could have done what Caren did. You’ll know what I mean when you get there. 
  • You WILL get there because you WILL read this book. 
  • A review with the author

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

Publisher: St.Martin’s Press
Publication Date: March 2010
Categories: Contemporary Women, Historical, War & Military

A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men. 

On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen’s infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh’s secret keeper, boss and truest friend.

Tatjana Soli paints a searing portrait of an American woman’s struggle and triumph in Vietnam, a stirring canvas contrasting the wrenching horror of war and the treacherous narcotic of obsession with the redemptive power of love. Readers will be transfixed by this stunning novel of passion, duty and ambition among the ruins of war.

My Quick Thoughts:
  • Reading about the war in Vietnam never gets old
  • Learning about war photographers, especially female photographers, was fascinating
  • Beautiful setting, complex characters
  • More historical fiction, my fave!
  • Violent and heartbreaking
  • About the author

Publisher:Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication Date: June 2012
Categories: Historical-General

“Let me tell you something, son. 
When you’re young, and you head out to wonderful, everything is fresh and bright as a brand-new penny, 
but before you get to wonderful you’re going to have to pass through all right. And when you get to all right, stop and take a good, long look, because that may be as far as you’re ever going to go.”

It is the summer of 1948 when a handsome, charismatic stranger, Charlie Beale, recently back from the war in Europe, shows up in the town of Brownsburg, a sleepy village of a few hundred people, nestled in the Valley of Virginia. All he has with him are two suitcases: one contains his few possessions, including a fine set of butcher knives; the other is full of money. A lot of money.

Finding work at the local butcher shop, Charlie befriends the owner and his family, including the owner’s son, Sam, who he is soon treating as though he were his own flesh and blood. And it is through the shop that Charlie gradually meets all the townsfolk, including Boaty Glass, Brownsburg’s wealthiest citizen, and most significantly, Boaty’s beautiful teenage bride, Sylvan.

This last encounter sets in motion the events that give Goolrick’s powerful tale the stark, emotional impact that thrilled fans of his previous novel, A Reliable Wife. Charlie’s attraction to Sylvan Glass turns first to lust and then to a need to possess her, a need so basic it becomes an all-consuming passion that threatens to destroy everything and everyone in its path. 

Told through the eyes of Sam, now an old man looking back on the events that changed his world forever, Heading Out to Wonderful is a suspenseful masterpiece, a haunting, heart-stopping novel of obsession and love gone terribly wrong in a place where once upon a time such things could happen.

My Quick Thoughts:
  • Fabulous book!
  • Incredible foreshadowing..not the kind that hits you over the head, the kind that lets you know that something is going to happen
  • The ending, the ending, OMG the ENDING!
  • Run, don’t walk, to your local library and check out this book! Or you know, you could buy it. Steal it? I don’t care, just read it.
  • About the author
  • He has a memoir? I didn’t know that!!

Those are three books I can happily recommend. If I had to pick one out of the three? Heading Out to Wonderful.

23 thoughts on “Quick Thoughts On: The Cutting Season, The Lotus Eaters & Heading Out to Wonderful

  1. Completely sold on Heading Out To Wonderful – loved the cover, and the story sounds great. I've been meaning to read The Lotus Eaters for a while but not got to it yet; surprised it's been so long since it was published.


  2. I will definitely have to read Heading Out to Wonderful and The Cutting Season ASAP! Yep, I am totally a member of that Goolrick fangirl club. 😉 I will also have to read The Lotus Eaters – the photography aspect really intrigues me. I am a freelance photographer but being a photojournalist would be a dream.


  3. I don't know how I missed The Lotus Eaters when it first came out. I suppose I can't read EVERY single book right away 😉 I kept hearing good things about The Forgetting Tree and figured I'd read her first novel before the new one. I'm glad I did.


  4. The Cutting Season and Heading out to Wonderf look really good. Not so sure about The Lotus Eaters. Vietnam is not my favorite time period to read about. I like your quick thoughts!Kendal


  5. I loved this post! I have Cutting Season on hold at the library so I was pleased to see how much you enjoyed it. I have checked out Lotus Eaters before but returned it unread, seems like that could have been a mistake!


  6. I really liked The Lotus Eaters, as well. It was fascinating to read about the war from the perspective of a female journalist. But oh my goodness, reading about the devastation in Cambodia toward the end was so completely horrific and haunting!


  7. Added a couple to my reserved list!! Heading out to Wonderful….LOVE…and I total agree on the ending…Love the quick thought format for your reviews…I might have to borrow that so I can get caught up already on my reviews!! 🙂


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