Book Review: “The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires” by Grady Hendrix

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Have you ever read the title of a book and thought: “This was made for me?” That’s what happened when I saw The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires on a list of new books coming out in 2020. I was pretty sure that author Grady Hendrix had been watching me as I binged Buffy The Vampire Slayer, read any of Anne Rices’ vampire chronicles I could get through Interlibrary Loan, and attended my library team’s book club in a Southern state. In other words, I felt attacked.

Because apparently clever titles make me open my wallet, I bought The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires as soon as it came back in stock (it was sold out instantly on indie bookstore websites). I waited two days with the book sitting on my desk at home because you’re supposed to quarantine books in case of COVID-19 traces. Finally, I curled up on the couch by my husband, cracked open the spine, and settled in. A few hours later, I slammed the book shut dramatically and told my husband everything about it. I don’t usually read books in one sitting unless I absolutely can’t put them down, and this was one of those special stories that actually lived up to its title and cover.

Spoiler-free summary before you read further: this novel is about exactly what the title says it’s about.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires gets right: This is one of those rare books where a man author actually wrote from the perspective of amazing women characters with understanding, wit, and great empathy. The main character, Patricia, was so relatable and heartbreaking as she shouldered all of the emotional labor (and literal physical security) for her household that I was pleasantly shocked to find out that the author was a man. Her sense of guilt that she’s not doing enough for everyone in her life was palpable. Yet as Patricia slowly makes strong friendships with the women in her book club and in her own home, she begins to emerge as a fiercely driven, free-thinking character that still has plenty of flaws. For a fictional character in a horror novel, she’s pretty real.

Patricia’s characterization shines against the foil of her husband, Carter, who acts as if Patricia is crazy, cheats on her repeatedly, and snuggles up to the main villain of the story just because he makes a lot of money. It’s frustrating to read about, but don’t worry- there is some justice. I’ll give Carter this- he made me hate him more than the actual vampire in this book; Carter is like the Umbridge of this novel.

This is not just a book about Southern true crime-loving women, although that part is definitely awesome and I 100% want to talk with them about Helter Skelter. This book tackles gentrification, racial injustice, sexism, gaslighting, and vampires all in one story, and it does this flawlessly. You will be thrilled, shocked, and horrified all at once. I certainly was.

What The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires gets wrong: There are a few moments that seem a little tone-deaf. Racism thrives in the town’s community, and while it is addressed and called out as wrong, it is disappointing how the main black character, Mrs. Greene, has to save herself and the white women again and again without any help while her neighborhood suffers. There’s a big message here about acting like you can’t see the problems of others as long as you and your family are safe.

Who should read The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires: If you’re a Southern lady in a book club with a bent for true crime, obviously pick this one up. However, men and non-Southern women will also enjoy this novel if they are fans of horror, suspense, vampires, and humor.

Who shouldn’t read The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires: This novel is best for mature audiences.

 

The library doesn’t currently have this book, but you can request it through Interlibrary Loan once it is safe to do so, or you can check for it at your local library.

Content note: language, brief sexual scenes, emotional abuse, violence, racism, sexual assault, attempted suicide. Reader discretion is advised.

Featured Book: “Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise” by Justin Wainscott

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Justin Wainscott, a member of Union’s Board of Trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, recently released a new book. Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is divided into 2 sections: hymns and poems. The hymns section draws heavily from Scripture; Wainscott adds recommendations of familiar tunes for each hymn to be sung to. The poems section focuses on different themes such as God’s grace, dealing with anxiety, and family.

One poem that particularly stands out is “Shared Wonder,” which is about our relationships to art:

The art we most enjoy-

whether stories or sketches,

paintings or poems,

music or movies,

sermons or songs-

is the fruit of private wonder

being made public.

Wainscott goes on to write about the joy of shared wonder, which he concludes is the end result of art.

Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is a great resource for worship leaders, pastors, and laymen alike. Whether you’re looking for a new hymn to sing or a poem to resonate with, this book is here to help you worship God. You can check out Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise from the library.

Featured Book: “Art of the Pie”

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If you like baking, colorful photographs, or down-to-earth stories, then this book is for you. Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life by Kate McDermott provides both delicious recipes and helpful advice from the author.

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McDermott reflects on how pie has shaped her life:

Pie is a meditation that I have practiced countless times. Some of my first attempts were less than stellar, but I didn’t give up because I felt something drawing me in. Standing at the baking counter ready to put my hands into a bowl filled with flour, salt, fat, and water has become a contemplative part of my day- and one that I look forward to.

Pie is the best teacher I’ve ever had.

Art of the Pie takes the reader through the basics to more complicated recipes; from making homemade pie dough to making Apple Quince Pie, Peach Berry Pie, and even Chicken Pot Pie. The beautiful photography by Andrew Scrivani illustrates each delectable detail of the desserts. Close-ups display the desired texture of the pie mixtures and help the reader know what his or her own creations should look like when made properly.

McDermott also includes helpful notes with most of her recipes. These notes add a personal touch to the instructions.

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This book is available in the main book stacks of the library. Check its availability on our website!

 

Featured Book: ESV Reader’s Bible

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*Photo courtesy of Crossway.

The library has recently acquired a special, six-volume set of the Bible: the ESV Reader’s Bible. Published by Crossway, this set presents the Scriptures in an easy-to-read format, much like that of a novel. Each volume is printed on European book paper with smyth-sewn binding.

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Excerpts taken from the Bible’s introduction provide the background of this unique edition:

The Bible is the greatest earthly treasure that God has ever entrusted to his people…The purpose of this edition of the ESV Bible is to present the Scripture in a way that reflects the unspeakable preciousness and beauty of the Scripture itself.

Chapter and verse numbers, footnotes, and headings have all  been removed, with just a limited number of section headings provided to help guide reading. The result is the text of Scripture presented in a way much closer to the original manuscripts.

More information about this special version of the Bible can be found on Crossway’s website.

These volumes can be found in the library’s Reference section. They are not available for check-out, but you are welcome to read them inside the library building.

 

 

Featured Play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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Recently released play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now available for check-out here in the library.

According to the book jacket, the play is based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne; it is “the eighth Harry Potter story and the first to be officially presented on stage.” The story occurs nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, an event recorded in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

The original Harry Potter books, as well as the films, are also available in the library.

Featured Music: The Beach Boys

Looking for a great soundtrack to highlight the last days of summer? The library owns a two-part collection of the Beach Boys’ famous singles. The band’s tight harmonies and beach party music created many memorable hits like “I Get Around,” “Wouldn’t It Be  Nice,” and “God Only Knows.” 20 Good Vibrations, The Greatest Hits: Volume 1 and Volume 2 are available for check out; the two CDs are located in the CD collection on the second floor.

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Recently acquired book Catch A Wave: The Rise, Fall & Redemption of the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson by Peter Ames Carlin details even more about the history of the band, focusing on Brian Wilson in particular. Check out this biography in the music books (M) section on the library’s second floor.

 

Featured Book: “Sense And Sensibility: An Annotated Edition”

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Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense And Sensibility, gets an update in the new annotated edition. Edited by Patricia Meyers Spacks, the story comes to life with helpful notes and further reading suggestions. The annotated edition also features over 50 different illustrations, including oil paintings and frescos of the novel’s setting.

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This special edition of Sense And Sensibility is ready for check-out; its information can be found on our website. The library also holds the 1995 film version of Sense And Sensibility.