All tagged Texas Forever

Review: Nowhere But Home by Liza Palmer

I discovered Liza Palmer's piquant novel Nowhere But Home thanks to Angie, who described it as,

"Recommended for fans of Friday Night Lights, comfort food, and top-notch storytelling."

As readers of this blog know, those are effectively my three favorite things, so, of course, I dropped everything else and picked up a copy of Nowhere But Home (which, incidentally, name-checks FNL on the back cover). Needless to say, this warm, funny and emotionally authentic story about a chef who finds herself begrudgingly back in her hometown not only met those expectations, it's most certainly destined to be one of my favorite reads of 2013.

Queen (Queenie) Elizabeth Wake's mother, the late B.J. Wake, gave her a big name so she could escape the Wake family destiny: that of serving the role of resident lowlife of the Hill Country town of North Star, Texas.

Queenie's sister, Merry Carole, followed in their mother's footsteps, having a scandalous teenage relationship with the town's golden boy football player and their son now is--quite controversially--the rising star quarterback on the North Star football team. Queenie, however, got out of North Star, first thanks to college in Austin, and then thanks to a series of chef jobs all over the United States. Yet once again, she's been fired--this time from a New York CIty hotel restaurant because she refused the ketchup a customer requested (I'm right there with you, Queenie). Out of options and with nowhere left to go, Queenie returns home to North Star. 

The red light blinks. Welcoming me home. What's the exact opposite of blaze of glory? I look around my dusty Subaru, cut-off jeans, and think: me. This. This is what the exact opposite of a blaze of glory looks like.

Review: Lovestruck Summer by Melissa Walker

“I know what I like,” I say. “It’s a certain type of music and I’m just not into stuff like bluegrass and banjos.”

“Music is music, Priscilla,” says Russ. “If you love music, you give it all a listen. You see what there is to learn in every song you hear. You take chances on shows. That’s part of it.”

I’ve been just dying for a great summer-themed read, so a couple of weeks ago I blew though five or six books I hoped would fit the bill. Among those books was Melissa Walker’s 2009 novel, Lovestruck Summer, which was exactly what I was hoping to find and earned itself a spot as a summer read I’ll definitely revisit. 

Don’t let the cutesy cover fool you. Lovestruck Summer has quite a bit of meat to it with excellent, believable character development—as well as some very smart humor—and most definitely fits into the spectrum of older-YA/”new adult” that’s becoming so popular right now.

Quinn (who’s real name is Priscilla, but no one had better call her that) has just graduated from high school in North Carolina when, on a whim, she calls her favorite record label at 3:00 a.m and asks for a summer internship. To her surprise, the label agrees, which means she’ll be spending the summer in America’s live music capital, Austin, Texas. 

Quinn finds herself living with her super sorority girl cousin, Penny, a UT student who has a bedroom and wardrobe for her dog, and whose next-door neighbors include Russ, a 21 year-old cowboy/frat boy combo (think Matt Saracen if he drove Tim Riggins’ truck) who loves country music and annoys the hell out of Quinn. She often “escapes under her headphones” because these people are so different, and Quinn doesn’t know how to cope with the Bachelor marathons and pop-country that are the soundtrack of her cousin’s apartment.

I tug on Penny’s arm. “I hate country music,” I whisper through clenched teeth.

“What?” she asks, clapping her hands to the beat and hardly turning around. “I hate country music!” I shout, way too loudly. The back half of the restaurant turns to scowl at me.

“Let’s make some memories.”When I first heard about Clear Eyes, Full Shelves from Sarah and Laura, the Friday Night Lights reference flew right over my head. They exchanged glances, cackled giggled, and laughingly explained the name of their blog. I responded with a big fat “Huh?”

But my ignorance continued unabated until I was invited to review books for them. My default response to the offer of books to read is—and always will be—a resounding HELL YES.

Thus, in order to do justice to the FNL Character Rating, in the name of research I decided I should actually watch some of this TV show.

Let me begin by saying I grew up in small towns all around Arizona. For eighteen years I lived in towns where the only bookstore was the Christian bookstore. Where at least a quarter of the students were  Hispanic and the division between them and the gringos was stark. Where disagreeing with the government was considered unpatriotic. For a shy, spanish-speaking white girl who loved books, you would have a hard time finding a more alien environment—an environment that managed to be simultaneously hostile and home.

And while the experience has given me an interesting perspective, I have to say I love living in Portland, Oregon now. So you can understand why I might be reluctant to plunge back into this world again.

But FNL is special.