TLC Book Tour: The Opposite of Everything, Joshilyn Jackson

tlc1I have had the pleasure of reading and of meeting Joshilyn Jackson before, so when TLC Book Tours offered her latest novel, The Opposite of Everything, I was excited to be included. Jackson is a fresh Southern voice, and I have enjoyed her previous work very much.

This novel is the story of Paula Vauss, a gutsy divorce lawyer living in Atlanta. Paula grew up nearly homeless, constantly moving and changing her name, with her hippie mother Kai, an admirer of Indian religious philosophy who called Paula Kali, after the Indian goddess. Paula carries a great deal of guilt over her broken relationship with her mother and blames herself for her mother’s stint in prison because it was Paula who called 911 and summoned the police the day Kai was taken to jail. However, when some unexpected and unknown elements of Kai’s past drop into Paula’s life, she has to decide what to do and whether to let Kai—and those relics of her troubled past—into her life and reconcile with her mother’s ghost.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It’s a mix of Southern humor and Southern gothic, as most great Southern literature is. Jackson is very funny in person, and this humor spills over into her books, even when she’s dealing with the dark subject matter of unwanted children, foster care, and ugly divorces. Paula is a wounded character who has built up a tough exterior so she can face the world, but she is completely discombobulated by what she discovers about her mother. I loved the end—it was perfect. I used to live in Atlanta, and Jackson is on familiar territory here, too. She clearly knows the city well and captures it without making it a necessary part of the narrative. Her characters are well-drawn and true-to-life. Paula conjures the memory of her mother with perfect clarity. The reader has no doubt how much feeling has passed between Paula and her mother, as much as Paula herself tries to distance herself from that past. It winds up very much a part of her present, and she discovers that owning it and dealing with it will finally make her whole.

Rating: ★★★★½

tlc2Tour Schedule

Tuesday, October 11th: I’d Rather Be At The Beach
Wednesday, October 12th: G. Jacks Writes
Friday, October 14th: Art @ Home
Monday, October 17th: Peeking Between the Pages
Tuesday, October 18th: The Book Bag
Tuesday, October 18th: Wall-to-Wall Books
Thursday, October 20th: Literary Quicksand
Tuesday, October 25th: The Reading Date
Wednesday, October 26th: Luxury Reading
Thursday, October 27th: Mom’s Small Victories
Friday, October 28th: Much Madness is Divinest Sense

Read on to learn more about the book from TLC Book Tours and the publisher.

the-opposite-of-everyone-pb-coverAbout The Opposite of Everyone

Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (October 11, 2016)

A fiercely independent divorce lawyer learns the power of family and connection when she receives a cryptic message from her estranged mother in this bittersweet, witty novel from the nationally bestselling author of Someone Else’s Love Story and gods in Alabama—an emotionally resonant tale about the endurance of love and the power of stories to shape and transform our lives.

Born in Alabama, Paula Vauss spent the first decade of her life on the road with her free-spirited young mother, Kai, an itinerant storyteller who blended Hindu mythology with southern oral tradition to re-invent their history as they roved. But everything, including Paula’s birth name Kali Jai, changed when she told a story of her own—one that landed Kai in prison and Paula in foster care. Separated, each holding secrets of her own, the intense bond they once shared was fractured.

These days, Paula has reincarnated herself as a tough-as-nails divorce attorney with a successful practice in Atlanta. While she hasn’t seen Kai in fifteen years, she’s still making payments on that Karmic debt—until the day her last check is returned in the mail, along with a mysterious note: “I am going on a journey, Kali. I am going back to my beginning; death is not the end. You will be the end. We will meet again, and there will be new stories. You know how Karma works.”

Then Kai’s most treasured secret literally lands on Paula’s doorstep, throwing her life into chaos and transforming her from only child to older sister. Desperate to find her mother before it’s too late, Paula sets off on a journey of discovery that will take her back to the past and into the deepest recesses of her heart. With the help of her ex-lover Birdwine, an intrepid and emotionally volatile private eye who still carries a torch for her, this brilliant woman, an expert at wrecking families, now has to figure out how to put one back together—her own.

The Opposite of Everyone is a story about story itself, how the tales we tell connect us, break us, and define us, and how the endings and beginnings we choose can destroy us… and make us whole. Laced with sharp humor and poignant insight, it is beloved New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson at her very best.

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Joshilyn JacksonAbout Joshilyn Jackson

Joshilyn Jackson is the New York Times bestselling author of six previous novels, including gods in Alabama, A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, and Someone Else’s Love Story. Her books have been translated into a dozen languages. A former actor, she is also an award-winning audiobook narrator. She lives in Decatur, Georgia, with her husband and their two children.

Connect with her through her website, Facebook, or Twitter.

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Between, Georgia, by Joshilyn Jackson

Between, GeorgiaJoshilyn Jackson’s novel Between, Georgia is the story of Nonny Frett, born to teenage Hazel Crabtree, who turned up on Bernese Frett Baxter’s doorstep in labor in the middle of the night. Bernese, a nurse, also happens to be the sworn enemy of Hazel’s mother, Ona Crabtree. Hazel gives her baby to the Fretts, and Nonny is adopted by deaf and blind Stacia Frett. Once Ona gets wind of the deception, her cold war with Bernese heats up and eventually breaks out into all-out war in an incident involving a dog attack. Biologically a Crabtree, but raised a Frett, Nonny always seems to be in between: caught between her no-account husband Jonno, whom she can’t seem to get rid of, and her friend, Henry Crabtree (either a distant relation or no relation).

First of all, it bears repeating (because every review I’ve read by a Georgian includes this fact), Between, Georgia, is a real place. I have driven through it. And that’s all most people say about places like Between. It is Between Athens and Atlanta, yes, but also exactly between Loganville and Monroe, which is think is the original origin of its name (if I’m not mistaken). One review I read of this book criticized it for having eccentric characters. It is true that Southern literature has its fair share of crazies. Maybe this video can illuminate things for you Yankees.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3KQgulBzh0

I know the reviewer said she’s lived in a small Southern town and folks were actually normal, and she’s probably telling the truth. Mainly (as Huck would say). But these are real people. I sure know them. So yes, this book has crazy people in it, but I think some of them were my family members—in fact, I’m pretty sure a lot of the Crabtrees were based on family members.

Joshilyn Jackson spoke at a Georgia Council of Teachers of English conference I went to a couple of years ago. She is hysterical in person, and has a wonderful voice, which is why folks seem to like her audio books. I remember her saying at the conference that she got interested in Between as she drove through town because she noticed the population sign: it had evidently lost a resident, and the sign had been changed. Jackson imagined that a person who would be so meticulous about the population sign must be someone like Bernese.

This was a fun, light read, and it was genuinely funny in some parts. It’s always a bit interesting to read about places you know or have visited or lived in.

Rating: ★★★★☆

This book qualifies for the Loved One’s Choice book in the Take a Chance Challenge because my mother passed it on to me and said I would like it. She was right. I did.

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Reading Update: Where is Shelley’s Ghost?

Does anyone know how long it takes a book to travel through the post from the UK? I ask because I won this book:

Shelley's Ghost

For creating this video:

(And before you get excited, I was one of three entrants, so they just decided to award the prize to all three of us.)

I want my book! It was mailed on or around March 3, I think, and given that was over two weeks ago, I’m starting to wonder.

So last week was a good reading week for me, as I devoured Water for Elephants in a day, and I finished listening to the audio version of A Discovery of Witches. I will be wrapping up Great Expectations on DailyLit this week.

I started reading Jon Clinch’s Finn, the story of Huckleberry Finn’s infamous Pap. It’s a little dark, and I’m not sure I’m in the mood for dark right at the moment. It calls to mind Faulkner, and I think I will be glad I’ve read it when I finish it, but I think I want to pick up Allegra Goodman’s The Cookbook Collector, though it has really mixed reviews on Goodreads. I planned to read it anyway for the Sense and Sensibility Bicentenary Challenge. I also toyed with the idea of picking up Between, Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson. First of all, I’ve been through Between, which is a real place. Second, Jackson was hysterical in person when I heard her talk about her books. Third, I know it will be funny and light.

Yeah, I can’t decide.

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Beach Books

I’m hitting the beach tomorrow! We’re staying in Florida for a few days next week, and so I’ll have plenty of choice, I decided to bring along the following books (the first of which I have just started reading):

I’m not sure what sort of online presence I’ll have while I’m on vacation, but even if I don’t review the books over vacation, I’ll review what I have read when I return.

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