Summer of Lost and Found

Summer of Lost and Found
Summer of Lost and Found by Mary Alice Monroe

Missing and Endangered

Missing and Endangered
Missing and Endangered by J.A. Jance

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Missing and Endangered by J.A. Jance- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady’s professional and personal lives collide when her college-age daughter is involved in a missing persons case in this evocative and atmospheric mystery in J. A. Jance’s New York Times bestselling suspense series, set in the beautiful desert country of the American Southwest.

When Jennifer Brady returns to Northern Arizona University for her sophomore year, she quickly becomes a big sister to her new roommate, Beth Rankin, a brilliant yet sheltered sixteen-year-old freshman. For a homeschooled Beth, college is her first taste of both freedom and unfettered access to the internet, and Jenny is concerned that she is too naive.

With Beth at war with her parents, Jenny asks to invite Beth home for Christmas, and Sheriff Joanna Brady says yes. After all, what could go wrong? Within hours, however, Joanna’s department is sucked into a complex officer-involved shooting that places two vulnerable young children in jeopardy. When Beth disappears while visiting over Christmas vacation, Joanna finds herself in a case fraught with landmines. With her own daughter’s well-being at stake, the seasoned sheriff knows there’s no room for the slightest mistake as hope ticks away for a fragile young girl who has gone missing and endangered.


 LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:




MY REVIEW:

Missing and Endangered (Joanna Brady #19)Missing and Endangered by J.A. Jance
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Missing and Endangered by J.A. Jance is a 2021 William Morrow publication.

Sheriff Brady- dependable, as ever!

Jennifer Brady’s college roommate has gone missing. Quickly becoming proactive, Jennifer calls her mother for advice and help.

Meanwhile, one of Joanna’s officers was shot in the line of duty. The case becomes more complicated when two young children get caught in the crossfire.

This story allows Jennifer to share the spotlight with her mother. I enjoyed this thread because of the spotlight it shines on the continual exploitation of young people on the internet by sexual predators.

The main case, though, is the officer involved shooting. This case highlights child abuse and neglect, various criminal activities, and of course murder. Elements of this thread are heartbreaking. Joanna’s tenderness towards the young victims was especially poignant.

Overall, this is another solid addition to the series, and I really enjoyed it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Judith Ann Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series. Born in South Dakota and brought up in Bisbee, Arizona, Jance lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington and Tucson, Arizona. 





Friday, May 7, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: An American Marriage- by Tayari Jones- Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together.

LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:


 



MY REVIEW:




An American MarriageAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones is a 2018 Algonquin Books publication.

Well drawn characterizations and a thought provoking and timely topic combines to make a potent blend, which kept me riveted to the pages of this book.


Roy had done everything right, is successful, married to a beautiful woman, living the American dream- until he is falsely accused of rape and sent to prison.

Celestial finds her comfortable life turned on its axis after Roy is incarcerated. She remains loyal to her husband, but as the years pass, her life continues to move forward, while Roy’s stagnates behind bars, and her feelings for him begin to wane, prompting her to seek comfort from another man.

Meanwhile, lawyers are working round the clock to get Roy’s conviction overturned- which miraculously, after serving five years, it is!!

But, Roy, soon learns that easing back into his former life and resuming his marriage with Celestial is easier said than done.

What stands out for me in this novel, are the little nuances. Roy, who opens the dialogue in the first chapter, drew me in with his honesty, and humor, which was occasionally sheepish and self- deprecating, even though I disapproved of some of his actions.

Celestial was, for some reason, a character I found difficult to warm up to at first, but upon reflection, I think her character may have gone through the most productive growth of all.

Celestial’s needs and expectations are different from Roy’s ideals, some of which can be attributed to male/female roles and expectations in a marriage, and others to their own individuality. But, throw in a HUGE live altering test of the marriage and it will either strengthen or fall apart. Which way did things go for Roy and Celestial?

The other timely topics explored have to do with racism and mass incarceration. Prison life is fraught with danger and loneliness, and of course Roy missed his former life, but it was simple things, things we so easily take for granted that makes the bleakness of his situation come alive.

Despite their flaws, and each party has their fair share of them, they were basically ordinary people thrown in an extraordinary circumstance and left to cope with those circumstances as best they could. They were both human, with real needs, desires, hopes, and dreams. Both made excuses, both played the blame game, but both have a bond together they find hard to break free of.

The epistolary parts of the novel were well done, which exposes both the closeness and the awkwardness of the marriage, but also the way time robbed them of the growth marriages need to survive.

The secondary characters were added depth and conflict and were also very well drawn, and equally affected by the outcome of Roy and Celetial's marriage.

While the book is not filled with action or suspense, or even, despite the heaviness of the situation, is it melodramatic, with one exception, that, to be honest, almost had to happen, to break the tension that boiled to the surface. There were a few tense moments that made me pretty uncomfortable, but mostly the author just allowed the characters to flow, to take charge, and dictate the pacing. This approach sounds understated and maybe even underwhelming, but this story was incredibly absorbing, and I have to say the conclusion was surprising- but at the same time- not. Despite some misgivings and mixed emotions about how the characters ended up, overall, I think they may be exactly where they need to be, both as individuals and as a couple. It may be tempting to take sides, but I can’t say I would do better or worse in that same situation, but I did struggle with passing judgments on occasion.

Either way, this is a well written examination of relationships and human foibles, and how otherwise normal, well intentioned, good people face adversity and come out on the other end of it changed, for better or worse.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/American-Marriage-Novel-Oprahs-Selection-ebook/dp/B01NCUXEFR/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-american-marriage-tayari-jones/1125369918




ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, Silver Sparrow, and An American Marriage (Algonquin Books, February 2018). Her writing has appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and Callaloo. A member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, she has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Lifetime Achievement Award in Fine Arts from the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship. Silver Sparrow was named a #1 Indie Next Pick by booksellers in 2011, and the NEA added it to its Big Read Library of classics in 2016. Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. An Associate Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University, she is spending the 2017-18 academic year as the Shearing Fellow for Distinguished Writers at the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Sunday, May 2, 2021

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark- Feature and Review



ABOUT THE BOOK:

Harper Albright has pinned all her hopes on a future in fashion design. But when it comes crashing down around her, she returns home to Fairhope, Alabama, and to Millie, the woman who first taught her to sew. As she rethinks her own future, secrets long hidden about Millie's past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton boarded a train and left Charleston to keep half of her heritage hidden. She carried with her two heirloom buttons and the dream of owning a dress store. She never expected to meet a charming train jumper who changed her life forever . . . and led her yet again to a heartbreaking choice about which heritage would define her future.

Now, together, Harper and Millie return to Charleston and the man who may hold the answers they seek . . . and a chance at the dress shop they've both dreamed of. But it's not until all appears lost that they see the unexpected ways to mend what frayed between the seams.
 


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MY REVIEW:


The Dress Shop on King Street (Heirloom Secrets, #1)The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark is a Bethany House publication.

Such a wonderful uplifting story!!

In 1946 Millie, a young woman of mixed heritage is leaving Charleston by train, with a couple of heirloom buttons and the dream of owning her own dress shop, when she meets a train jumper who changes her life…

In present day, Harper Albright has returned to Alabama after her dreams of a career in fashion are dashed. Here she reconnects with Millie, the woman who first taught her to sew. Millie senses Harper needs some time to regroup and offers her a place to stay at her boarding house.

This string of events will merge the past with the present, as Millie’s story is finally revealed, possibly leading to an opportunity for both she and Harper to realize their true dreams.

I loved this story! It’s so sad and heartbreaking, but is also moving, inspirational and heartwarming. As is usually the case with multiple timelines, the historical side of the story was the most effective, in my opinion. Millie’s journey is riveting as she navigates through treacherous waters, finds true love, but faces the most heart wrenching choices along the way.

The characterizations are rich and vivid, and the story is teeming with tension, and joy, highs and lows and triumphs and failures. It’s about life and the unforeseen curveballs and trials, and a reminder that we don’t have to carry our burdens alone and, that maybe things work out best in God’s good time.

The author does an incredible job of handling sensitive topics, incorporating a gentle message, and creating such a beautiful story, it lingered in my heart and mind for long after I turned the final page.

Overall, this is such a refreshing story and an impressive debut!! Will read this author again!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses as an adjunct. She's an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns.