Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Giveaway and Review #50: THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY by Victor McGlothin

CLOSED.
Thanks to the generous folks at
Hachette Book Group,
I have been authorized to
 give away three (3) copies of
THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY
by Victor McGlothin.

Rules for entering this giveaway
are at the bottom of this post.



Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Category: Fiction
Format: Trade Paperback
Publish Date: 6/21/2010
Price: $13.99/$16.99
ISBN: 9780446178136
Pages: 384
Size: 5-1/4" x 8"

Description (from the back cover):
1950 New Orleans couldn't be sweeter for Ivory "Bones" Arcineaux and Hampton Bynote. Friends since meeting at an illegal gambling house outside Newberry, Louisiana, they indulge themselves with all the fine women, good food, and wild nights they can handle. All seems good in N'awlins-especially for Hampton, who plans to make a clean break from riotous living after falling for the woman of his dreams, classy Magnolia Holiday. But the love of a good woman may not be enough to pull Hampton from the brink of disaster when his pal Bones murders a white city councilman during a simple robbery gone wrong.

Now with the local police and the FBI hot on their trails, Hampton and Bones must decide whether friendship is worth losing their freedom-and possibly their lives.


My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars - Good but slightly flawed.

My Thoughts:  I had more than a little trouble settling on a rating for this book, most likely because despite what I view as some pretty obvious flaws, I still liked this book. THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY is a deceptively ambitious novel, and I think it just gets away from the author.  For the most part, I enjoyed the book while I was reading it but, once I was finished and considered it as a whole, I was frustrated and a little disappointed. I ended up with a lot of questions. On the other hand, I think it's a worthwhile, entertaining, and provocative read. It could certainly generate some good discussions.

Most of the story is set in 1950's Jim Crow era in and around New Orleans and is told from the point of view of Hampton Bynote, a young black man who has been banned from the plantation where his family has been sharecropping for generations -- actually, since slavery was abolished. He doesn't mind too much because he wants more of life than what sharecropping can provide, and he's still able to sneak onto the plantation to visit his family. When he's in the city, he dabbles in crime as a means of survival but doesn't want to get too deep into the life. Things change drastically when he meets up with Ivory "Bones" Arcineaux. Bones is of mixed race, mostly passing as white for safety and convenience while his loyalties are firmly placed within the black community. He has the potential to be a fascinating character, but the focus of the story is not on him and, as the story progresses, his character actually loses dimension. Unfortunately for the story, I believe his character and his motivations are too integral not to be explored more thoroughly.

Meanwhile, Hampton is a nice young guy, rather naive, who just wants to live a little before finding the perfect woman and settling down. He fully intends to lead a good life -- just not quite yet. He falls victim to Bones' manipulations and, for most of the story, it's arguable whether Bones will save Hampton or destroy him.

Actually, there are quite a few victims in THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY.  Back on the plantation, life hasn't progressed all that much since the era of slavery. It's revealed very early on in the story that the black women sharecroppers have entered into secret sexual relationships with the white plantation owners throughout the entire town, what is referred to as a "Gentlemen's Agreement," and the women believe this somehow protects the lives of their husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons. It was difficult for me to accept the premise that this secret has been successfully kept from the black men for generations. Both Hampton's mother and his sister, Pearl Lee, have become entangled in this agreement. What is hinted at and never fully explored, are the complex and conflicting feelings the women possess toward their secret "lovers" in particular and the agreement in general.

There are other victims of sexual abuse as well, far too many for this novel to address in a satisfactory manner. The frequent instances of abuse may be true-to-life, but in the circumstances of this novel, it strains believability and, therefore, detracts from the horror that is suffered.

So, what did I like about THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY and why would I recommend it? I liked both Pearl Lee and Magnolia, a young girl who sets her mind and heart on Hampton and won't let go. I also liked Hampton. I was probably most satisfied with the development of Magnolia's character. She arrives on the scene as a seemingly wide-eyed innocent, but she's a pretty spunky young woman with a keen eye on everything going on around her. She's determined, knows what she wants, and knows how to go after it.  The novel holds a rich cast of secondary characters, and I enjoyed observing their interactions and the various ways they handled conflict and adversity, as well as good fortune.

I also liked the glimpse into this complicated historical era - right on the cusp of the civil rights movement. You could see America changing, one person at a time. Some people were holdouts - some of the most steadfast holdouts grew by leaps and bounds at the last possible moment. Some just got meaner.

I liked the author's writing style - it's clean, straightforward, and very discriptive. The reader experiences the essence of the time and place, the voice of each character is distinctive. I liked the pace of the storytelling - threads are unwound slowly and leisurely - until toward then end when everything feels too rushed.

THE SECRETS OF NEWBERRY would have been a better book if it had been more tightly written.  Kind of like this review!

So, enter the contest, and judge this book for yourself.

About the author (from the publisher):
Essence bestselling author Victor McGlothin is a former bank vice-president who nearly forfeited an athletic scholarship due to poor reading skills. Ultimately, he overcame that obstacle and later completed a Masters degree in Human Relations & Business. Victor is also an on-line columnist of Victor Said?, a real Brotha to Sistah look at relationship.

Victor lives in Dallas with his wife and two sons.

Click here to visit the author's website.

RULES FOR ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY:

• Leave a comment on this post telling me you would like to win. Include an email address with your comment so that I can contact you if you do win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com or geebee.reads [at] gmail [dot] com

You must leave an email address in order to qualify. If I can't contact you, you can't win!

• You can earn an extra entry by being or becoming a Follower or Subscriber of this blog and telling me about it in a separate comment.

• Blog about this contest and provide me with the link to the post in a separate comment, and I'll give you yet another entry.

• Tweeting about this contest and providing me the link in a separate comment will get you one more entry. I've added a Retweet button at the bottom of every post.

• Stumble this blog, Digg it, or Technorati Fave it, whatever, and leave a separate comment for another entry.

• Winners must provide a U.S. or Canadian street address. Hachette is unable to deliver to P.O. Boxes.

Deadline for entry is 11:59 p.m. EST on Friday, August 6, 2010.

• Winners will have 48 hours to respond to my email announcing that they have won; if I don't hear from a winner, I will draw another name.

Thank you to Valerie
at Hachette Book Group
for making this giveaway possible.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE!

Thank you to Hachette Book Group for my review copy of this book.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

64 comments:

Gerri said...

May be my lucky day & I'll win this interesting day.

Gerri_One@hotmail.com

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Simply Stacie said...

follower

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

bermudaonion said...

I won this not long ago, so I'm glad to see it's good, even if it's not great. No need to enter me in your giveaway.

Tore said...

I am a follower. Please enter me in contest. I would love to win this book. Tore923@aol.com

Zibilee said...

Sorry to hear this one didn't totally work for you. I think I might skip it.

debbie said...

I would like to win this book.
twoofakind12 AT yahoo DOT com

debbie said...

I am a gfc follower.
debbie
twoofakind12 AT yahoo DOT com

Bethie said...

Please count me in. I am a follower.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

holdenj said...

Good to hear your comments. I would like to be entered to win and give it a try. Thanks!
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

holdenj said...

I'm a GFC follower.
JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

Cindy W. said...

I would love to win a copy of this book. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

I am an email subscriber.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Cindy W. said...

I am a GFC Follower.

Smiles,
Cindy W.

countrybear52[at]yahoo[dot]com

Darcie K. said...

I would love to win this!
dmkayes@gmail.com

Darcie K. said...

I follow via Google Friend Connect!
dmkayes@gmail.com

Darcie K. said...

I subscribe via email!!
dmkayes@gmail.com

Martha Lawson said...

I would love to be entered to win this one, it has caught my interest since I first saw it on the blogs!

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Martha Lawson said...

I follow on gfc

mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

Charleydog said...

Please enter my name in the giveaway. Love books!

pboylecharley AT hotmail DOT com

a real librarian said...

Thanks for the chance to win!!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

a real librarian said...

I follow!!

areallibrarian[at]gmail[dot]com

headlessfowl said...

I would like to win.

headlessfowl at jteers dot net

headlessfowl said...

I am a follower on GFC.

headlessfowl said...

I retweeted at:

http://twitter.com/headlessfowl/status/19443697342

Brenda said...

Please enter me! The book looks like a fabulous read!

dancealert at aol dot com

Brenda said...

I'm a subscriber!

dancealert at aol dot com

Brenda said...

I'm a follower!

dancalert at aol dot com

Melanie L said...

Please count me in for the contest. Thanks!
peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Melanie L said...

I am an email subscriber.
peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

Melanie L said...

I'm a follower.
peacelily_2006(at)yahoo(dot)com

librarypat said...

It sounds like the author tried to cover too much territory in a single book. Since his style appears to be so good, this is probably a case of having a lot to say and trying to do it all in one book. He would probably have been more effective if he had concentrated on a few issues/points and more fully developed them. Hopefully, he will write more books and narrow his focus a bit when he does. I'd like to win this book and evaluate it for myself.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

librarypat said...

I am a Follower.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

librarypat said...

I am a Subscriber.

librarypat AT comcast DOT net

andrea said...

I'd like to enter...
thanks for the giveaway!

brigneti(at)gmail(dot)com

andrea said...

follower

brigneti(at)gmail(dot)com

Steve Capell said...

This book sounds like an interesting read. Thanks for the opportunity.

steven(dot)capell(at)gmail(dot)com

allisonsbj3 said...

Thanks for another great giveaway!

allisonsbj3(at)gmail(dot)com

allisonsbj3 said...

Blog follower

allisonsbj3(at)gmail(dot)com

Chanelle said...

I would like a chance to win
cparkins14 AT teancum.net

Chanelle said...

I am a follower.
cparkins14 AT teancum.net

Misusedinnocence said...

This sounds great, I would love to be entered.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

Misusedinnocence said...

I follow on gfc/blogger.

misusedinnocence@aol.com

PoCoKat said...

I would love to win this book!

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

PoCoKat said...

I am a follower.

littleone AT shaw DOT ca

ChristyJan said...

I would love to win!

hawkes(at)citlink.net

ChristyJan said...

I'm an e-mail subscriber and I follow via GFC

hawkes(at)citlink.net

carolsnotebook said...

I'd like to give this one a try. It sounds like one I may enjoy.

carolsnotebook at yahoo dot com

Mary (BookHounds) said...

No Need to enter me -- I just posted this on win a book for you.

http://winabook.westofmars.com/2010/07/29/the-secrets-of-the-newberry-by-victor-mcglothin/

Beth said...

This looks great! I'd love to win!

bethsbookreviewblog2 AT gmail DOT com

Beth said...

I'm a follower.

bethsbookreviewblog2 AT gmail DOT com

wmmahaney said...

I would love to be entered.
wmmahaney(at)att(dot)net

wmmahaney said...

I follow in Google Reader.
wmmahaney(at)att(dot)net

Denny, Alaska said...

Please count me in! Thank you.

denny(dot)gill(at)gmail(dot)com

Denny, Alaska said...

+1 I follow via GFC. Thank you.

denny(dot)gill(at)gmail(dot)com

degood said...

This looks like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway.

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

degood said...

I follow your blog as degood with google friend connect.

kerrie@mayansfamily.com

Katrina said...

I would love to win, I love books like this!

ykatrina at hotmail dot com

Renee G said...

Would love to read this.
rsgrandinetti@yahoo(DOT)com

Renee G said...

I follow as Renee G on GFC.
rsgrandinetti@yahoo(DOT)com

Tara said...

I would love to win this!

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Tara said...

I follow you publicly on Google Friend Connect!

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Tara said...

http://twitter.com/TaraLin/status/20473278672

I tweeted about the giveaway!

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Tara said...

http://chicagocouponconfessions.blogspot.com/2010/08/giveaways_06.html

I blogged about the giveaway!

TaraTagli at gmail dot com