Cigarette Lemonade

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Pub Date Jun 01 2024 | Archive Date Jun 30 2024

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In the gritty underbelly of South Carolina meet an unlikely duo: Dizzie, a young trans drug trafficker, and Smoak, an aspiring hitman. Together they are given a seemingly simple task: deliver a bag of drugs in exchange for cash. but the truth of their mission is far from simple, and they find themselves on a treacherous road trip marked by deceit and betrayal, where shootouts punctuate their path, double-crosses wait around every corner, and survival becomes their only motivation.

A novella of drug running and crime with a vein of Southern noir from seasoned writer Connor de Bruler. If you love the classic crime thrillers of Cormac McCarthy, Joe R. Lansdale, and Barry Gifford, get ready to try a new and exciting twist on the genre with Cigarette Lemonade.

In the gritty underbelly of South Carolina meet an unlikely duo: Dizzie, a young trans drug trafficker, and Smoak, an aspiring hitman. Together they are given a seemingly simple task: deliver a bag...

Advance Praise

"It doesn’t get much leaner and meaner and real than Connor de Bruler’s CIGARETTE LEMONADE. An excellent novella that does more in a few pages than most fat novels. This is the stuff." - Joe R. Lansdale

"It doesn’t get much leaner and meaner and real than Connor de Bruler’s CIGARETTE LEMONADE. An excellent novella that does more in a few pages than most fat novels. This is the stuff." - Joe R...

Available Editions

ISBN 9780645958614

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Average rating from 35 members

Featured Reviews

The first thing that caught me about this novel was the title. One of my best friends sent me a list of books in order of when she’d be reading them and this was on it. Immediately, I was like… yo… what is that?

Anyway, colour me curious. I got it. I read it in a few hours and when I tell you that I absolutely devoured this novella… I mean it. As a non-binary person who grew up in South Carolina, I was immediately attached to Dizzie. Despite the clothing she’s in and the makeup she wears, people still perceive her as the gender she was assigned at birth and that’s something I can relate to directly. I found myself admiring her grit and determination (especially in the scene with the whole one free pass thing; she’s such a badass and I think I’ve told my friends I would die for her [a fictional character, mind you] numerous times since reading that scene).

The ending left me feeling a little snuffed with how abruptly it ends but I think this is more of me wanting to see more of what happens to Dizzie. She’s my age, right, and I’m young… which means she has an entire life ahead of her. Presumably, anyway. Mayhaps. I want to know more about Dizzie and where she takes herself after the end of the novella, but I suppose that’s the beauty of how it ended. It’s all up to interpretation.

Overall, I’m giving this a solid 4.5 stars, rounded down for GR and exact for TSG. This was a super fun and fast-paced read, and I definitely plan on checking out more of de Brueler’s work in the future.

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An excellent ARC!

Cigarette Lemonade is a beautifully vivid novella. Bruler has an immaculate writing sense and establishes a setting without it being lost in chunks of exposition. There is a purposeful sense of mystery, and the characters are decently fleshed out throughout the novella.

This story was engaging, addictive, and very neatly presented. That being said, I ultimately rated Cigarette Lemonade 4.5 stars. While I adore the concept of an open ending for this novella, I couldn't shake the feeling that the conclusion presented was slightly rushed and detached from the tone of the majority of the novella. It fell flat, and it might have to do with the pacing of the final scene. It felt slightly "he did/she did/done."

That aside, this book was thrilling, and I really, really LOVED it. I'm absolutely looking forward to reading Bruler's other writings, and I can't wait to see the success of this book when it is officially released.

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Cigarette Lemonade is a quick and thrilling novella filled with crime, torture, and death. I loved the setting of this story and the vivid action sequences, The adrenaline was pumping the more I read. It left me wanting more each chapter.

Bruler did a fantastic job with the writing and pace of this book, as well as creating a simple yet compelling chemistry between the two main characters Dizzie and Smoak. Dizzie is a such a girlboss. Personally, her character was more intriguing to me from the get go compared to Smoak. This was a fun and exciting read.

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Not going to lie, I picked this book on NetGalley because I loved the cover. I didn’t even read what it was about. What a surprise! It’s a novella about two drug mules, Dizzie and Smoak. Two people that probably should not be drug mules. It’s right around 100 pages of drugs, violence, torture and murder.
I really enjoyed the novella. I feel there could be a follow up story since the it ended so abruptly. It was super fast paced and overall a great novella.
Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read an advance copy.

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This story opens with the two main characters hiding a body in the woods, and the action doesn’t slow down until the last word. After the opening scene, we are carried back to the beginning, when Dizzie, a young transgender woman, and Smoak, a young man dreaming of becoming a hit man, are hired to carry out a drug deal. Their employers are a group of Chinese women looking to pick up some easy money. This book fits into the Southern Crime Noir genre and the story and characters remind me of books by Elmore Leonard and Cormac McCarthy. The action is intense, and you have to pay attention to the characters and the situations. Things change constantly as Dizzie and Smoak try to not just finish the job they were hired for, but to survive. It was interesting watching the relationship between these two grow from mistrust to a friendship of sorts based on their circumstances.
Set in South Carolina, the book is rich in description and transports you to the gritty South. There are scenes with graphic violence and an explicit sex scene. You could probably page past the sex, but the violence is pervasive and is woven into the story line and impossible to avoid. I enjoyed the book – the writing was so vivid I felt I was watching a movie and I never flinched from the blood on the page.
I gave this book four stars for the story and writing, but it missed being five stars because I felt the ending was rushed and too abrupt. Maybe I just didn’t want the story to end.

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This was a really interesting and engaging read. I was rooting for Dizzy and Smoak throughout the story and really enjoyed getting to know them.

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Great crime noir, cat, mouse chase! Loved the characters, ending felt a little rushed, but I liked the way it did end. I had already planned out a different ending so it was a nice little curve ball to go in the opposite direction.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this little novella. There was an air of surrealism throughout it's run that I deeply connected with. It was simply a vignette into the world of extremely flawed people. In a way, reading it felt somewhat disconnected, but in the same way reading the Great Gatsby feels disconnected. I also loved how completely southern this book was as someone from the south. Red clay, Buc-cee's, burned-out motels at random highway stops, and off-brand cigarettes made it feel as if Dizzie and Smoak were two people you could see passing through town at the local gas station. The whole book felt like a deep-fried fever dream in the best way possible. I believe that this book achieved exactly what it was aiming for. I look forward to it's release in June.

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I really enjoyed the Southern noir element in this book, it had a great overall feel to it and thought it worked super well. The characters felt like they were supposed to and thought had a great suspenseful atmosphere and thought they concept worked well. The characters were everything that I was hoping for and enjoyed in the genre. I enjoyed what Connor de Bruler wrote and can't wait for more.

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_Cigarette Lemonade_ takes an unflinching look at two disillusioned twentysomethings who will not or cannot conform to the structure of American society. Dizzie, a desperate transgender woman, and Smoak, a hired gun, take a job moving drugs across state lines. The job goes well, until it doesn’t.

The novella is a clear example of author Connor de Bruler flexing his literary muscles, but he manages to do so in the most understated way possible. His prose is sparse, with only the occasional flourish of metaphor. He demonstrates his mastery of the form with what he doesn’t say, abandoning unnecessary descriptions of the main characters (we are left to imagine what they look like entirely). When he chooses to be descriptive, it is with visceral imagery of violence, and settings that seem to evoke loneliness and desperation.

Strikingly, although she is subject to bigoted scrutiny, Dizzie’s former name is never revealed, even when others call her by it. De Bruler gives us a transfeminine main character who has become hardened and capable by the necessity of her transition in less-than-progressive Southern areas, and it shows in every choice she makes. As crackdowns on trans individuals spread through the US, Dizzie is the unfortunate main character queer readers need. Her determination, toughness, and at times, poor judgment make her at once relatable and aspirational.

Reading _Cigarette Lemonade_ was the perfect start to my summer. I hope the novella gets noticed, even studied for the way it deals with transgender characters.

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