Glory Lands by Vastine Bondurant ~ Review by Marc

Hi guys 😉 So it is very interesting to get books to read without knowing what I’ll get. I like to be surprised and most ARCs and RCs don’t even have a cover to influence my opinion when they get to me. Usually I just start to read, without looking exactly what kind of book it will be. Anything can happen! It’s kind of fun! 😉 So when I was asked to read this book and got my copy on the kindle, I just started to read without any information! And what a read it was <3 In my opinion this book was beautifully written, but is not difficult to read. Well, some of the things that happen are difficult, but you will never feel completely hopeless. Even when the most heinous acts are committed, I always had the feeling that everything would turn out all right. You will strongly feel for the characters, but the crimes are committed off-page and it will probably not irrevocably rip your heart in pieces, only temporarily.  A strongly recommended read!!!

The Cover: I actually didn’t see the cover at first! A friend asked me to read an amazing book and I got an ARC from the author. I only saw the beautiful book cover later, when I was raving about the book in the currently reading section of one of my GR groups and wanted to link it to my post. It´s the kind of cover I really love, though, so I think if I had seen it somewhere, it would have caught my attention.

GloryLandsLGTitle: Glory Lands

Author: Vastine Bondurant

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Published on January 22nd, 2014

Page count: 146

Rating: 5 of 5*

From the Publisher

A Texas Piney Woods Story 

Rural East Texas, 1931. Preacher’s son Emory Joe Logan and a fiddler from Shreveport, Glory Lands, meet and form a tender bond. When they are caught and arrested for homosexual acts by Sheriff Elihu Bishop, the lawman’s sanctimonious bigotry threatens to rip the young men from their families.

Emory Joe’s father, Pastor Charles Logan, is brought to his knees in terror, confusion, and anger. He still regrets not standing up against Bishop when the lawman murdered a youth in cold blood nine years ago.

Now there’s no longer a choice for the preacher to stand up to the lawman. Cold-blooded justice, bigotry-disguised-as-religion, and hatred take on a whole new meaning when they’re standing on his doorstep, ready to take the son he loves.

My View

The title: Not having seen the cover, I was kind of expecting some nature writing like in the pioneer novel I had to analyse for university. I was really glad the title referred to one of the MCs, though. I do like nature and love beautiful descriptions like the next guy, but I was afraid the MM aspect would be in the background – which it isn´t. However, it does feel very authentically set in the recent past of Texas. I´m not sure if the title would usually have grabbed me on it’s own, but in combination with the cover it might work, as you can see that the MM aspect will be important and the glory in connection with the church that can be seen works to foreshadow the religious aspect.

The story: The book starts off with a note from the author that a real-life event moved her so much that she had to integrate it into the story. It´s a horrible act of violence that really happened in Texas and as I read the beginning of her story, it became clear to me why she needed to share it. It set a kind of omnipresent danger and tension for the novel and even in the most beautiful moments, you know they won`t last. Something will happen that will disrupt the beauty, innocence and love that so clearly feel right.

There are three main characters in this story. Emory Joe, a young man, who is the quiet, but loved and loving son of the local minister. After the events of the beginning of the book, they know that justice doesn` reign in their town. Therefore, when the minister, another of the MCs, realizes that his son seems to be attracted to another young man he met, he’s troubled.Not just because it challenges his belief system, but also because he fears what might happen to his son, if people like the Sheriff would find out. It’s a confrontation he is not ready for and he closes his eyes to the truth and pretense he doesn’t know that his son has fallen in love. The story of the shy minister`s son meeting and falling for the beautiful traveling musician is such a sweet and innocent exploration and love story that it’s nearly impossible for an open-minded reader to understand why some people could commit the most terrible crimes against their fellow brothers for being in love and belief their actions sanctioned by god. The beauty, innocence and love stand in stark contrast with what happened in the very beginning of the novel and what happens after they found each other.

Yet there is still a lot of hope to be found in this story and the end, even if not a HEA, will leave you with a satisfied smile. I loved the way this novel has been written. The style very much reminded me of the great American classic¨To Kill a Mockingbird¨. Very authentic and atmospheric. The writing is beautiful and the love story will melt your hearts. It was easy to fall for the MCs and especially the inclusion of the father, a minister struggling between faith and the unconditional love for his son, made this more than just a great MM, but a real literary masterpiece. I was able to find everything I would in a classic like ¨To Kill a Mockingbird¨ and can recommend this one not only as MM story, but as great literature in general that would be read and analysed in University, were our world a more accepting one.

I remember reading a story that criticised the bible and religion in general, by playing out the scenario of the rapture. The souls of the religious people were lifted into heaven and left zombi-like people without morals behind, as the soul didn’t control them anymore. It made me sad that any religion was shown to be bad. I’m a catholic, myself and have always believed in some way or other that there was a god or higher power. I’ve never believed that god hated me for being gay, though. For me the main messages of the bible are to treat others with love and respect and not to judge them, as that is god’s place. I was taught in our catholic religion class in one of the most conservative regions of Germany that the bible is a story book created to teach people a specific ideology.

Most of the people couldn’t read when the bible was written and the stories included were such that they could be easily understood and passed on. It’s not about everything happening exactly as the bible says, but about finding the core values that were included and to live by them. Of course, it was a document of it’s time and therefore some things are not applicable in modern times. We do not covet our neighbor’s slaves and property, because slavery is an immoral practice that has been mostly eradicated in our times. It was normal when the bible was written and even when Moses led his people out of Egypt, it was described that they had slaves themselves.

To me it has always been quite obvious that the bible is not the word of god verbatim. It was written by men with all their flaws and prejudices. It does still have many valuable lessons and an ideology that hasn’t lasted for such a long time for nothing. But it’s not infallible and whenever people use words of a bible they do not completely understand to commit even greater sins than the things they perceive as unnatural and wrong, it’s clear to me that they use the words to justify their own prejudices and hatred.

I loved that this novella showed that not every religious person is bad and religion can give strength and a moral guideline. There are just people, who make specific words more important than the messages of love and acceptance that can be found in the bible. Who use the words as weapons to hurt others and gain power.

I loved seeing the minister struggle with his faith in a way that was neither preachy nor let the prejudices win. There was strength in these characters and in their own beliefs. I really hope that there will be a follow-up novel to see how the city deals with the events of this first book and what the consequences will be. The story of the two lovers was brought to a satisfying and hopeful conclusion, but I felt like the minister’s story and the story of the city wasn’t finished yet. I am craving more 😉

GO read it, you won`t regret it 😉

Where to Buy

Dreamspinner Press

I would like to thank Dreamspinner Press for the ARC of this title in exchange for my honest review.

Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

Brandilyn
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8 thoughts on “Glory Lands by Vastine Bondurant ~ Review by Marc

  1. Thanks for this review. I’ve never read anything by this author and when I first looked at the title and the setting date, I passed it up. It’s now going on my buy list. I think it will be a difficult but rewarding read.

  2. I have not had the pleasure of reading this as yet, but I am so intrigued by the cover. I am so looking forward to getting a chance to read it especially after reading the review.

  3. Fantastic review, Marc, and the story takes places during such an interesting time, one that doesn’t get used as a setting in many books these days. Yet another one to add to the list. 🙂

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