Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Southern Reading Challenge Wrap Up

Maggie's Southern Reading Challenge was one of the challenges I told myself I would not take on. The last thing I needed to do this summer was take on another challenge, but as I was going through the books in my TBR room, I discovered a few that would qualify. Charlaine Harris is one of my favorite authors, and I hadn't yet tried reading her Lily Bard series. This was the perfect excuse. Why not get all caught up with one of my series reads by reading the latest Jack Kerley book? I should probably make some sort of effort to work towards that annual goal of mine. To balance things out, I chose a book recommended by another blogger, something a little outside of my normal reading zone, a novel by Charles Martin. There were certainly more I could have chosen from, and I would not have minded reading those either, but other reading commitments required I stick to the minimum.

Maggie hoped to give readers a taste of the South, and she certainly succeeded in that.

My Southern Selections:
Shakespeare's Landlord by Charlaine Harris
A Garden of Vipers by Jack Kerley
When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

What was my favorite Southern novel of the three I read?

This is a tough question to answer. Each of these books received a Very Good rating from me.

Charlaine Harris is one of my favorite series authors, and I was quite impressed with the first book in her Lily Bard series. Lily is one tough woman and I really appreciated that there was a strong set of teeth in this cozy.

When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin was a beautiful story--tragic and hopeful all rolled into one.

Jack Kerley's writing gets better and better with each book. He not only writes an entertaining tale, but he kept me on the edge of my seat almost through the entire book. There's enough twists and turns to keep any suspense enthusiast happy.

What book could I have done without?

I cannot even comtemplate question like this, frankly. Each of these books was well worth reading. I got to spend time in small town Arkansas, in a quiet lake side community in Georgia and in the heart of Mobile, Alabama. It was a lovely summer!

What was the best part of the Southern Reading Challenge?

With all of these challenges, the best part is diving into books that I have been wanting to read for ages, but have put off getting to for one reason or the other. For this challenge, I was introduced to a new author who I definitely will revisit in the future, experienced a different genre by a favorite author and enjoyed the company of old friends in the other.

I also had the pleasure of visiting the other participants' blogs, seeing what they were reading and taking down notes of possible books I might someday want to read. I will never lack for something to read, that's for sure!

Maggie did a great job of inspiring a sense of community and camaraderie with the Southern Reading Challenge. I cannot begin to thank her enough for putting this challenge together and allowing me to be a part of it. Thank you, Maggie!


  1. Hey Wendy! That's what I like about these reading challenges, because you also get to know more interesting/new books through other participants' reviews. ;P

    I'm sure you enjoyed this Southern Reading Challenge. I didn't participate earlier because I wasn't aware of it, plus I don't think I have enough Southern theme novels to keep me going.

  2. Well said! Maggie was an awesome hostess, and what great books you read - I read Shakespeare's Landlord as well and it was excellent.

  3. Hi, Melody! Yes, these challenges are a great way to learn about new books. :-)

    I know Maggie opened the challenge up to include other cultures as well for those whose "South" isn't the same South in the U.S. I can't remember if anyone took advantage of that. Maybe if she hosts the challenge next year, you'll be able to join in! :-)

    Elizabeth - Maggie did a wonderful job, yes. I was a little afraid I wouldn't care for Shakespeare's Landlord to be honest. I thought it might be too cozy for me, but it turned out to be just what I needed. :-)

  4. Hi - Have you ever read Jennifer Blakes's Southern series? There is two set and the first one in series is The Louisiana Gentlemen Series and the other one is a brand new series The Masters at Arms

    Warning, that Masters at Arms might be a tad bit detailed so that might bother you. But as you keep reading the next installments it get better IMO :)

    I wish you good luck in your Southern challenge read next time :)

  5. It really was a great challenge. I also thought each of my selections was very good. And my wishlist increased considerable with other people's reviews.

  6. Congrats!

    I really enjoyed this challenge as well, Maggie kept it going strong the whole time.

  7. Julia - I'm afraid I've never even heard of Jennifer Blake. I'll have to look into her books further. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Nymeth - I am glad you enjoyed your selections for this challenge too. I am glad I decided to take part in it after all. :-)

    Alisia - Thank you! Maggie did a great job with the challenge, I agree.

  8. Congratulations on finishing the challenge! I think this is the first challenge I've participated in that I didn't have to rush to finish or didn't finish at all. It's refreshing.

  9. I've only ever participated in one reading challenge (which is currently underway), but I would have loved this one. I'm a southern girl, living in a yankee world, so it's fun to read about places with which I'm familiar.

    I have to suggest that you read some of the novels by Pat Conroy if you haven't already. His book Beach Music is my favorite of all time (up to now, but I hear he's writing another novel). I even wrote a post about it a while back.

  10. Nikki - Thank you! It was nice to finish it a couple of weeks before the deadline. Sometimes I feel like I'm pushing the limit there.

    JMC - Maybe you can join in next year if Maggie decides to host a Southern Challenge again.

    Beach Music is now on my wishlist. Thank you for the recommendation. It sounds like something I would enjoy reading.


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