Kirkus Review of my new historical novel The Hand of God
An African-American man is caught between his own demons and those of 1950s American society in this historical novel. Jones (Tembo Makaburi, 2017, etc.) tells the story of 24-year-old Bobby Lincoln, who lives in the coastal town of Palm Harbor in 1955 Florida. With few jobs and no education available to him, he ekes out a living by fishing and doing any other work that he can find, often using his boat. But it’s not enough for him or his common-law wife, Idella, who keeps threatening to leave him if he doesn’t become a more effective breadwinner. None of this is helped by his own love of gambling and his tendency to keep company with some of the town’s best-known criminals. When a local gangster offers him $2,450 to take part in a serious crime, Bobby knows that it would break the heart of his deeply religious mother and disappoint a smart teenage boy who idolizes him. But he also believes that it might be his only chance to keep his wife and get back some self-respect. One little boat ride quickly turns into a nightmare that consumes Bobby’s life even as he tries to conceal it from others. As the situation spirals further out of control, he finds that there may still be a way to get the redemption he seeks, even if it takes divine intervention. Overall, this book is well-paced, drawing readers into its time period without slowing the story down with excessive description. Bobby is a believable and mostly sympathetic protagonist; his personal character flaws are many and glaring, but it’s enjoyable to watch him struggle to overcome them. The book’s flaws, by comparison, are relatively small: the author tends to use double exclamation marks in dialogue when they’re not necessary, and he often tells readers what characters are feeling (“He liked being around him because he knew the teenager looked up to him”) instead of showing it through their actions. By and large, though, the story rises above these issues.
Summary: An imperfect but often engaging tale of an imperfect man seeking redemption.
The lead in this novel represents a great starring role for some young black actor.
Kirkus Review of my romance Novel The Duck Springs Affair
An elderly woman remembers her romantic difficulties during the 1960s in this novel.
Cassie Mae Carter is a woman trapped in a loveless marriage, raising a sickly son in Duck Springs, Georgia, nearly on her own, as her long-haul truck driver husband is so rarely at home. Paul Hamilton is a handsome and rakish construction worker who loves to be outside, to use his hands, and to enjoy the freedom of independence. When Paul joins a crew that is expanding a portion of road adjacent to Cassie’s farmhouse, both their lives are changed forever. After admiring Cassie from afar, Paul finally finds the nerve to approach her when he sees her tussling with a wayward calf on the farm. After playing hero to this damsel in distress, Paul finds he cannot stay away from her. Following a few more interactions, Cassie and Paul acknowledge their undeniable attraction to each other, and they begin devising clandestine ways to meet. Paul finds himself falling deeply in love with Cassie, experiencing emotions that are foreign to him but exhilarating just the same. Unfortunately, Cassie feels that divorce is not an option for her, and she knows that she and Paul will have no future together. During one of their many meetings, she asks him to give her a child so that she may have something to remember him, a piece of him to keep with her after his road crew departs. Paul struggles with this request and mourns the doomed nature of their relationship. As Jones (Lonely Magnolia, 2017, etc.) effectively creates one obstacle after another for Cassie and Paul, he also explores deeper questions about personal choices and the different forms that love takes. Although the story is ostensibly told by Cassie, most of the narrative flows from Paul’s point of view. Even so, this fast-paced novel deftly tackles complicated questions of sacrifice, loyalty, and grief while keeping the suspense high until the story’s final twist. This book should especially appeal to fans of star-crossed romances.
Summary: A knotty, engaging tale of lost hope and lonely nights.
More Praise for John's Books
The Duck Springs Affair
An Affair to Remember!
Rating: 5 out of 5 blossoms!!
By Tammy Windsor
This book was SO enjoyable that, once I picked it up, I could not put it down. I literally read all night long to finish it! The plot was well-developed and had just the right amount of Southern charm and quaint "small town Georgia" feel. And, I should know, as I am a small town Georgian, myself! The plot line was interesting and moved at a good, steady pace, never stalling or going flat.
The characters are rich and vibrant, full of warmth, passion and depth and are written in such a manner that you come to feel as if they are old friends you've always known. It was very easy to get wrapped up in the feelings and emotions of the central characters and experience them in tandem. The deep loneliness, frenetic sexual angst, hollow longing, all-consuming joy of true love and soul-rending despair were all palpable.
The descriptive details were outstanding and invitingly drew me in. I could very nearly smell the fragrant peach trees, fresh hay and old, wooden timbers of the barn. I felt the hot, summer sun baking my skin, the oppressive, humid air sitting heavy in my lungs and the chilly water of the river being playfully splashed on me. I could have sworn I could hear the wind rustling with a whisper through the crisp autumn leaves, the squawking and quacking of the plethora of ducks bobbing on the water's surface and the low, plaintive bawling of the baby calf that had been separated from his mother during milking time. I could almost taste the delicate sweetness of the rustic peach pie, the cool, refreshing purity of the water at the natural spring and the ambrosial headiness of passion's first kiss.
The overall theme of the book put me in mind of one of my very favorite movies, The Bridges of Madison County. This book made me laugh, cry, sigh and wax nostalgic. Oh, and there's a real humdinger of a twist that comes out of nowhere and leaves you stunned and emotionally annihilated. Just thought I'd throw that 911 in there! I am really looking forward to reading more from Jones.
*I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to read and leave a voluntary and honest review should I choose to do so.
Thanks, PG!:Memoirs of a Tabloid Reporter
Extra! Extra! Excellent Read!
By Dorothy Andreson November 21, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Thanks, John Isaac Jones! I loved this book! Beautifully written, edited, and oh, so entertaining! Thank you for the 'insider' look of what really goes on behind the scenes of tabloid journalism, and yes, readers, it IS journalism. I find it quite amazing that tabloid articles are more fiercely fact checked than any so called 'legitimate' news in a 'serious' newspaper, gone over with a fine toothed comb to make sure each titillating story is absolute fact and every word can be legally backed up. Has to be or the writers, editors, and publishers are in for a word of legal hurt.
PG was quite the man. Brilliant and well educated with several degrees, including law and medicine, and John Isaac Jones is no slouch either. A fabulous writer, he could make a phone book interesting and entertaining!
Thank you, Mr. Jones, for sharing a bit of your world with us! I would love to read more of your 'tabloid memories,' and I hope you will consider writing another memoir on the same subject.
Readers, run, don't walk, to purchase this book! I think you will be pleasantly surprised!
Winner of 2013 Indie Discovery Awards for Short Stories
Set in Alabama over a period of about forty years beginning in the late 1940s, this exquisite collection of fifteen short stories provides snapshots into the lives of different characters.
The link between the stories is Billy, AKA William Vernon Johnson. Though they can be read as stand-alone stories, the collection chronicles the life of young Billy from a young boy to a man enjoying his role as a grandfather. Billy/William narrates several stories, but many of the stories are told in the third person, allowing for human experience to be revealed from several different perspectives.
Author John Isaac Jones writes with elegant simplicity, yet his narrative is rich with detail and the keen observation of the human character. Jones’s easy-going and familiar story-telling voice and descriptions place the reader in the heart of each story. The stories are simply told yet contains a paradox, an irony, a heartfelt lesson in love and life.
The first story, PREJUDICE, creates the setting for the reader, as William remembers: “I didn’t actually meet a Negro face-to-face until I was five years old. Of course I was aware of their existence from a distance.” After watching his father and mother interact with Calvin Washington, William later reflects:
“Somehow, I’ve been sitting on those back porch steps with that Negro man all my life. On one hand, knowing that at some level within the human spirit there is a universal frequency at which all men recognize one another’s sameness, and on the other hand, also knowing that human reason always manages to find perceived difference, which most men will use to set themselves apart from their fellow man.”
In A VIRTUOUS WOMAN, widower and grandmother Mrs. McKinney is wooed by 67-year-old Mr. Fletcher who wants to marry her, but when he pressures her into pre-marital sex, all bets are off – and it might have just saved her life. Others are not so lucky as in ONE STUPID MISTAKE; the story of eighteen-year-old Robert James Worthington who has everything going for him, but the ability to make the right decision one fateful night. In ANNIE: “I’M NOT BARREN,” SHE SAID; Annie is fed up with her partner not fulfilling her needs, and crosses the brink of sanity. However; in LENNY: LOOKING FOR LOVE; Lenny does find the woman of his dreams, but when she is gone, so is his zest for life.
There are many other stories painting the portraits of the diverse people in William’s life, but the final story, GRANDFATHERS, brings the collection to a heartwarming close. William draws parallels between his experiences with his grandfather, and his experiences as a grandfather with his own grandson, and brings the collection to a satisfying and heartwarming conclusion:
“Both knew instinctively that nothing, absolutely nothing, could stop the eternal transition from the old to the new. The forward movement of the big wheel was an undeniable certainty.”
ALABAMA STORIES provides a beautifully understated and compelling glimpse into human experience.
--- Reviewer Maya Fleischmann for Indie Reader