Reviews

Just Another Secret Santa…

I hate to sound trite – always uttered right before I’m about to – but one of my favorite things about book blogging is the random people you get to know. This year I was very excited to be invited to participate in a Secret Santa exchange. The participants, aside from me, are:

This is not your typical Secret Santa exchange. Due to the fact that we all live so far away from each other (I believe there’s a 50/50 split between Americans and Canadians), we won’t actually be gifting each other anything. Instead, we’ll choose a book for the person we’re assigned. They’ll read the book and then guest post on the gifter’s blog sooner rather than later. Easy, right? Mostly. It’s not so easy if the person you’re assigned is…

Rick.

I was feeling more than a little pressure for two reasons. First, because not only did he organize it and invite me, but this is his first Secret Santa exchange EVER. If he hates the book I give him, I will have forever ruined this rite of passage. Second, because he’s testing what little willpower I have. You see earlier this year, Rick hosted his very first readalong for Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. He hated it. Passionately. He then wrote one of the funniest wrap up posts I have ever read. Seriously, read it.

Herein lies the problem. I like funny, I love to laugh, and I will go to great lengths to do so. Will I go so far as to assign Dragon Bound #2, thus guaranteeing an amusing guest post for myself and my readers to enjoy? Admittedly it’s tempting, but no, I won’t. It would’ve been good though…

Instead, I’ve been trying to come up with a book that he hasn’t read (and preferably hasn’t heard of), that’s outside his comfort zone (as in not on his bookish radar), and that I’d want to share with others here (because people would be very confused if an Amish Romance novel suddenly appeared on the blog). This has been harder than you’d think; I take my bookpushing tendencies very seriously. A few of the books I considered, but eliminated: Wool by Hugh Howey (too popular), In Pinelight by Thomas Rayfiel (too experimental), and In Love by Alfred Hayes (a personal favorite, but not quite right). I was left with two serious contenders: Something Red by Douglas Nicholas and The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. I honestly had a tough time choosing between the two and if you feel like choosing the other, please do!

So which did I (possibly) choose?

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock. I choose this one because it is genre bending literary fiction masquerading as quintessential American hillbilly noir. It’s not widely known, it hasn’t won any awards, and Donald Ray Pollock seems to have disappeared into thin air, yet it’s a novel that deserves to be read. I’m looking forward to Rick’s thoughts.

DRPollock

“With The Devil All the Time, author Donald Ray Pollock has crafted an exceptionally gritty, twisted page-turner set in the Midwest during the mid-century, but reads more like a gothic Western. Lawlessness roams the rural, god-fearing landscape of Ohio and West Virginia, inhabitated by the likes of Pollock’s deranged-yet-compelling cast of characters–a husband and wife who take vacations to murder hitchhikers, a faux preacher and his crippled accomplice on the lam for manslaughter, and an orphan with a penchant for exacting violent justice. Needless to say, The Devil All the Time is a brutal novel, but Pollock exacts the kind of precision and control over his language that keeps the violence from ever feeling gratuitous. The three storylines eventually converge in a riveting moment that will leave readers floored and haunted.”

The alternative: Something Red by Douglas Nicholas (poet turned novelist), “An intoxicating blend of fantasy and mythology, Something Red presents an enchanting world full of mysterious and fascinating characters— shapeshifters, sorceresses, warrior monks, and knights—where no one is safe from the terrible being that lurks in the darkness. In this extraordinary, fantastical world, nothing is as it seems, and the journey for survival is as magical as it is perilous.” I appreciate that not everyone wants to read about violent, hillbilly psychopaths, so while I’ve made my thoughts known, Rick is free to choose whatever will best suit him.

(I’m resisting inserting “The Devil All the Time for the win”. This test of willpower is really working out for me.)

Merry Christmas and happy reading!

Edit: Heather at Between the Covers pulled my name and she choose Zazen for me. I’m very excited.

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  • http://anotherbookblog.com Rick @ AnotherBookBlog.com

    A husband-wife murder team? A fake preacher on the run from the law? A revenge-seeking orphan?

    Uh, YEAH.

    This is, like, the perfect pick. Not at all on my radar, probably not something I would naturally have gravitated towards, but something I am entirely excited to read. This is awesome, can’t wait to dive in!

    Something Red, though, also sounds really interesting. That one’s going on the TBR list, too. So it’s a 2-for-1 deal for me, I guess :)

    Thanks, Rory! Well done.

    • http://www.rivercityreading.com Shannon @ River City Reading

      *chants* Read this book, read this book.

      It’s one of my all time favorites and I wish I could recommend it to everyone, but it’s a pretty gritty read so it needs the right person.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Shannon’s absolutely right. If I were to make a list of best contemporary novels I’ve EVER read, this one could easily take the top spot. I’m glad you’re going to read it! And now that you’re excited about it I feel a tiny bit of relief for not ruining one half of your first Secret Santa.

  • http://deesbookblog.wordpress.com Dee

    I love this secret santa blog idea! and I’ve had The Devil of All Time on Mt TBR for a while – so maybe rick’s review will inspire me to finally pick it up

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      It’s so, so good. I hope you get a chance to get to it.

  • http://www.thebookwheelblog.com Allison @ The Book Wheel

    That is an AWESOME Secret Santa idea! I love it.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      I wish I could take credit for it, but alas, I can only take credit for having the good sense to agree to it.

  • http://ofbooks.org Alice

    Fantastic secret santa idea! I look forward to the guest post, Rick’s post on his readalong was hilarious! (I was really hoping you were going to pick Dragon Bound 2.)

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Me too… It would have been good. Rick might have hunted me down and strangled me though. It still might have been worth it.

  • http://ofbooks.org Alice

    Dammit, I forgot to close my brackets.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Fixed. Hands down the worst part about commenting on other blogs is the inability to fix typos.

  • http://www.bookishlyboisterous.blogspot.com Christine @ BookishlyB

    I love the set up you guys use- so much easier than shipping and still really fun.

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      And free blog content…

  • http://www.acidfreepulp.com Acid Free Pulp

    I think anything described as hillbilly noir should be chosen. Sounds good!

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      If you haven’t read it, it’s absolutely one you should add to your someday reading least. It’s easily one of the best dark contemporary novels I’ve ever read.

      Also, I don’t have to go back to work until next Saturday and I’m (tentatively) using my downtime to read The Lodger.

  • http://twitter.com/_Ciska_ Ciska (@_Ciska_)

    This is a fun idea, hope you will enjoy the read Rick! I am curious myself now

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Do it. No pressure…

      But seriously. 😉

  • http://twitter.com/missbonnie13 Bonnie (@missbonnie13)

    Solid recommendation. 😀

    • http://www.fourthstreetreview.com Rory

      Right? I get very few opportunities to force someone to read a book, I might as well live it up.

  • http://picturemereading.wordpress.com picturemereading

    What a cool idea! I love it..totally want to do that next year! Merry Christmas!

  • http://ebookclassics.wordpress.com ebookclassics

    Wow, that book sounds really good. Great choice! Can’t wait to read Rick’s review.

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