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  • Lush and descriptive writing

    Blogging on review tours is a great way to expose oneself to novels that are outside of the comfort zone. I may never have read or even heard about All Things Left Wild on a normal day. But thankfully for me, this tour led me to take a chance that paid off. Reading this novel expanded my exposure to historical westerns beyond romance. All Things Left Wild is two separate story lines on a collision course to a showdown. Even the chapters follow the separate story lines. The point of view switches between Caleb and Randall with each new chapter. The novel also doesn’t fit into any typical genres, crossing between adventure, historic fiction, and journey of the spiritual and physical variety. The plot twists and turns. Even at halfway through the novel, I wasn’t sure where the story or characters were going, but I was certainly along for the ride. Mr. Wade’s writing style is lush and visually descriptive. Details about characters, places, and things come alive as you read. I highlighted so many passages of metaphors and dialog that I could not share them all! Here are two of my favorite examples: “but rage was controlling the puppet strings and there was no reason or hesitation.” So physically descriptive, I can see the strings! “The umbilical piping rose up to and through the ceiling and it had been the smoke from this stove which had led them there in the first place …” The paragraph this sentence belongs to is just an amazing description of a cast iron stove. Who else knew that umbilical is used to describe piping. Not me! I’ll never be able to look at exposed pipes again without thinking about this sentence. With few exceptions, the characters in All Things Left Wild are flawed and unrelatable. I struggled to empathize with any of the decisions that are made throughout the novel. Caleb is looking for balance and to atone for his sins. He is straddling that line between man and boy, feeling the first rush of hormones while also mourning his mother. Randall is looking for revenge. And maybe redemption. What he finds though is that the family you make is just as important as the family you are born into. Grimes, the leader of The Lobos gang, is very persuasive in his cause. His attempts at persuading Caleb to join the gang are powerful and slick. He has amassed a group of followers that strongly believe he is leading them to their salvation. But no one, apart from Caleb really, questions the means to that salvation. The one character that I really loved in the novel is the Widow Cole who shelters Randall’s group during a snowstorm. Her direct and some might say blunt attitude towards every subject, especially men, was a refreshing blast of cold air on a scorching hot day. I read All Things Left Wild with both my eyes (ebook) and ears (audio book), as that’s how I roll sometimes. Mr. Hastings’s audio narration was smooth and warm, like a glass of whiskey. The voices are distinct and easy to follow, especially the voices of Caleb and Randall. The Texas twang comes through very well. There audio production is well done, with no awkward pauses. This may have been my first experience listening to Mr. Hastings’s narration, but it will not be my last. (I’m confident in saying I could listen to Mr. Hastings read the phone book and may have already been doing some Audible stalking!) Either format is recommended for this novel. Overall, I enjoyed reading All Things Left Wild. The descriptive writing and excellent narration made for a satisfying read.

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