Johanna is an art restorer who has just returned to New Orleans a few weeks post-Katrina. Eli is a reformed art thief - turned art recovery specialistJohanna is an art restorer who has just returned to New Orleans a few weeks post-Katrina. Eli is a reformed art thief - turned art recovery specialist, working for a service that returns stolen/misplaced art to its rightful owners - in New Orleans to look for a painting that was stolen many years ago. Clay is a young man from Old New Orleans Money about to come into his trust fund who is both seeking to inflict pain on those he encounters and seeking redemption for a terrible pain he unwittingly inflicted on someone else some time ago. Marion is a young artist/massage therapist/bartender intent on getting a fresh start in New Orleans after a rather crappy beginning to her life. All 4 of these individuals tell their stories in alternating chapters, with all of their paths crossing and their stories rushing toward a convergence that may (or may not) offer a happy ending for all of them.
This is best classified as literary fiction, but it is masterful literary fiction. The convergence of the art world and the dark underbelly of the sex industry laid over a just-beginning-to-recover wreck of New Orleans makes for a landscape ripe with possibilities for both joy and despair. The characters are all interesting, but figuring out the nautilus of the story is even more compelling. And there is a satisfactory ending, which can be elusive in the literary world. Highly recommended....more
Katherine Love is a black newspaperwoman in the late 19th century. She's in Chicago on a dangerous expose that involves her going undercover and stealKatherine Love is a black newspaperwoman in the late 19th century. She's in Chicago on a dangerous expose that involves her going undercover and stealing incriminating evidence from a big mean criminal - to whom she's managed to get herself engaged in the course of getting close enough to steal the evidence. She fully intends to flee Chicago as soon as she gets the evidence, but she gets caught during the burglary. Rupert is not one to allow himself to be embarrassed and he intends to force her to marry him...until a big man in a cowboy hat rescues her at the altar. When she quizzes him during her getaway, she learns that her father has promised this man her hand in marriage in return for a debt he owes the man...can she ever get back to the life she planned for herself? Or will this captivating dark man steal her away and force her to be his bride?
I don't read romance often. I have found it's usually pretty formulaic, and while I don't necessarily mind that, I just prefer a formulaic mystery to a formulaic romance. Nothing personal, just a matter of personal preference. That said, this was a pretty fun romance. Part history lesson on the intermingled history of blacks and Native Americans in the US - and the Trail of Tears - and part steamy falling-in-love romance set in the Wild West, I was entertained. If, like me, you like to delve into romance occasionally, this is a worthwhile venture. If you're a romance fan, I'd suggest you read this one posthaste!...more
Liz Talbot and her partner, Nate, are hired by one of the wealthiest families in Charleston to search for their missing daughter. It's been a well-pubLiz Talbot and her partner, Nate, are hired by one of the wealthiest families in Charleston to search for their missing daughter. It's been a well-publicized missing persons case, but after a month of searching, the police are out of leads and out of ideas. Colton Heyward is not prepared to give up searching for his daughter, however, so Liz and Nate step in. They unintentionally stir up a skeleton or two in the family closet, and unknown thugs seem to be threatening Liz. On top of it all, the partners' romantic relationship is on the rocks, and Liz's best friend - who died years ago but appears to her now as a guardian spirit - is being less than helpful in sorting out her problems. Will they find Kent Heyward? And where can she be?
This was a pretty standard mystery. The plotting is solid, the characters are OK, the mystery was pretty convoluted but it did keep me guessing. The author does a lot of brand-name dropping - "she pulled her wallet out of her Kate Spade handbag" etc. - which is just a personal pet peeve. Other than that, I had no complaints; it was a pretty fun read....more
Annie Black's world has been turned upside down. Her son was in a terrible car accident, her husband wants to separate from her, her boutique custom lAnnie Black's world has been turned upside down. Her son was in a terrible car accident, her husband wants to separate from her, her boutique custom lighting store is currently closed due to flood damage, and she's staring down the gauntlet of how some youthful decisions decades ago might be responsible, at least in part, for her current disaster of a life. Told in snippets of the past and the present, so that the reader is strung along in suspense to get to the crux of what is happening in the here and now, this debut novel is both page-turning and literary fiction, two descriptions that do not often go together.
This was an excellent, heart-breaking, love-affirming book. It's not really a mystery, and yet the structure of the story mimics that of a thriller so that the reader always feels in suspense. It was a difficult book to put down. The subject matter itself is fairly standard literary fiction fare, though with a bit of a twist near the end. Even so, told in a less suspenseful way, I don't think I would have enjoyed this story nearly as much. This is a rare instance, for me, where I wasn't really invested in the characters but the structure of the story pulled me along in quite an exciting manner....more
The author wrote a memoir of growing up with his father, a man handy with a belt (for whipping), a gun (for killing animals), a football (as a playerThe author wrote a memoir of growing up with his father, a man handy with a belt (for whipping), a gun (for killing animals), a football (as a player and then a coach), and babies (known by many as a Baby Whisperer) - all things the author feels he is not at all good with. Key explores his great love for his father through a lens of complicated feelings. He both worships his father and is unapologetically his opposite; he looks down on his father and then realizes he shares some of the same embarrassing traits. I laughed heartily at some points, and inwardly cringed at others. I think the glib treatment of racism held me back from becoming invested for a while - there were parts, like that, where it just felt like he was trying too hard to be funny over a subject that really just isn't funny at all. I liked the book - especially Key's exploration of his own marriage toward the end - but despite having grown up in the same time period in the same kind of rural Southern community, I just never felt I really connected with the author, so I didn't love it....more
*Disclaimer: I was provided a free review copy of this book by the publisher.*
Faye and Joe are home on Joyeuse with their toddler, Michael, and Joe's*Disclaimer: I was provided a free review copy of this book by the publisher.*
Faye and Joe are home on Joyeuse with their toddler, Michael, and Joe's felonious father, Sly (Amande is off at camp somewhere in the Appalachians and doesn't appear in this book, though her absence is acknowledged frequently). Faye is recovering from a heart-wrenching late-pregnancy miscarriage (not a spoiler - it's revealed in the first couple of pages of the book) the only way she knows how: by digging holes on her island. She can't even begin to handle the fact that someone seems to be preying on women in Micco County right now, and the EPA is swarming her island (and costing her who knows how much money) trying to clean up some substances of mysterious origin, and a stranger from Ohio is trying to find proof that her ancestor was a kidnapping murderer. And Joe can't handle all of that - and a toddler, and facing his own extremely complicated relationship with his father - without her. It seems like everything might fall down around their heads...possibly literally...if Faye doesn't get herself together again, and soon.
Oh, so heartbreaking but so great. I *love* the books that are back home in Micco County the best. Faye and Joe at home is my favorite. And this one killed me a little bit because they're so emotionally disconnected and hurting, but Sly Mantooth was a great addition to the character list. And I honestly had no clue who was behind it all until Faye figured it out (and even then, I was second-guessing her a little bit for a couple of pages). Plus delving into Cally's life a little more, a deeply personal history for Faye, was both comforting and really interesting. I am so sad that I'm all caught up on Faye's adventures now and have to wait for the next book, but I have so loved reading this series this year!...more
Azra has just turned 16, and the thing she has been dreading all her life has finally happened: she's a full-blown Jinn now, expected to grant wishesAzra has just turned 16, and the thing she has been dreading all her life has finally happened: she's a full-blown Jinn now, expected to grant wishes and use her magic only in ways dictated by the mysterious Afrit. This includes limiting her contact with the humans she lives among...but that's really hard considering she doesn't feel she really clicks with her Jinn family, and she feels comfortable and happy with her human friends. Once she starts getting wish assignments, though, Azra's life becomes infinitely more complicated, and she finds out that her mother has been keeping some huge Jinn secrets from her - secrets that confuse and terrify her. Why couldn't she be just a normal girl?!
Super-cute YA story. Azra is easy to connect with as a character, and while the concept of magical people in YA is not new, I'm pretty sure that Jinn/djinn/genies is not one I've seen before. The world-building is good. In general, I find that YA like this is basically teenage chick lit, which is fine - it's not especially challenging and the plot is not earth-shattering, but it's still fun. The one thing I didn't like about this is the ending - it feels like it ends very abruptly, right in the middle of the story. I get that it's supposed to be the first book of several, but usually a book in a series has an endpoint for that story, with unanswered questions that come up again in the next book. This one just...ended. To the point where I felt like pages were missing from the book. :/...more
Faye and Amande take on a job in upstate New York for the summer, cataloging the hometown museum of the "home of spiritualism." While there, they makeFaye and Amande take on a job in upstate New York for the summer, cataloging the hometown museum of the "home of spiritualism." While there, they make friends with a couple of old ladies from a family that has long been the pillar of the town - and also famous mediums throughout history. When one of them has her house set on fire under mysterious circumstances, the town is in an uproar to figure out who - and why. And of course, Faye and Amande can't stay out of it. There are seances and skeptics, magic shows and root medicine all swirling around the heart of some almost ordinary (by comparison) criminal activity.
I did enjoy this one, though not as much as some of the others. Joe wasn't in it very much - the book was really more of a vehicle to get to know Amande more - and I missed his presence and chemistry with Faye. I did love the sweet old ladies in this town and their cockamamie notions, but there wasn't much solid history to delve into. I guessed the criminal pretty early on - there just weren't many other options for who it could be - and I guessed at least one of the ways this person was operating for evil pretty quickly as well. I wouldn't say this book was a disappointment, but it wasn't my favorite in the series....more