Genre: Southern

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Book Review: The Innocents

August 29, 2016 Book Review, reviews 2

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: The InnocentsThe Innocents (Quinn Colson, #6) by Ace Atkins
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on July 12th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Southern
Pages: 367
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
three-half-stars

 

In December of 2014 the horrific murder of 19-year old Jessica Chambers rocked the South, especially the small town of Panola, Mississippi. This murder stood out from its lack of witnesses and evidence. And most especially by the manner in which Jessica was murdered – covered in lighter fluid and set on fire. It wasn’t until February of this year that an arrest was made.

Inspired by the horrific murder of Jessica Chambers, The Innocents tells the story of 17-year old Millie Jones from the fictional town of Jericho, Mississippi. This was my first introduction to both Ace Atkins and his Quinn Colson series. It would have been helpful to read the first 5 books in the series before reading The Innocents, Book 6. There’s a lot of back story I missed by not having read the first five!

So, what did I think?

The Innocents had enough twists and turns, red herrings and colorful characters to keep me turning the pages as fast as I could. While I suspected the murderer early on {probably from watching too much Law & Order}, I had to read through to the end to find out the why, how and all the circumstances.

Ace Atkins has a way of fleshing out his characters. The ‘bad’ characters were not completely bad just as the good characters were not all good. Atkins ability to plop the reader down in the midst of a southern town with all its intricacies, politics and local characters added to the reading experience.

As I mentioned, this is my first Ace Atkins book so I’m not familiar with his series style. There were a few threads in The Innocents that did not get played out. One such sub-plot involving a Muslim clerk, I really expected some kind of resolution, but was left dangling.

For the series to be about Quinn Colson, Quinn Colson seemed to play more of a background role in this book. Granted he’s no longer the sheriff of fictional Jericho, but I thought he would be more of a central character. On the flip side, I thoroughly enjoyed the strong female sheriff and hope Lillie continues to play a primary role.

An enjoyable read satisfying that desire for a fast-paced mystery. If you like Greg Iles, especially his early mysteries, then I imagine you’ll be right at home reading Ace Atkins.

 

 

three-half-stars

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Thoughts on Flight Patterns

May 24, 2016 Book Review, reviews 4

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Thoughts on Flight PatternsFlight Patterns by Karen White
Published by NAL on May 24th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Southern
Pages: 416
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads

 

I’ve been a fan of Karen White’s books since Falling Home and After the Rain. She’s one of those authors that it doesn’t matter what the book is about, I’m going to buy it. My absolute favorite book of Karen White’s is On Folly Beach ~ that one was like immersing myself in dream, buying a used bookstore & living at the beach…

So about Flight Patterns. I’m not sure what went wrong with this one, but for me, I simply could not buy into the premise, the characters or even the setting. And setting is typically this author’s strong point!

What I did not love

  • Maisy. She was angry at the world, spiteful and simply not a nice person. It seemed like the author was trying to make a point with Maisy’s character and how our parents can affect us even into adulthood. I did not see any real growth in her character throughout the book. Even in the end she felt flat and one-dimensional to me – an angry, bitter person.
  • The progression of the book seemed stilted. It’s like the author threw every contrived scenario at the characters in order to create emotional drama and impact but instead, it didn’t flow with White’s typical immersive storytelling skill.
  • The novel felt too long and drawn out. We were told many, many times how Birdie was mentally unstable and Maisie was ‘justifiably’ angry and Georgia was responsible for everything.

[Tweet “The good and the bad with #flightpatterns”]

What I did enjoy

  • Becky, Maisy’s daughter. Such a sweetly drawn character who stole the show for me.
  • Many of the bee facts – fascinating!

When a hive is invaded by a wasp, the bees cluster around the intruder and fan their wings to make it 117 degrees, knowing that wasps cannot survive temperatures above 116. This is the ultimate act of survival, as the bees will die if the temperature reaches 118 degrees.

  • Nuggets of life truths sprinkled throughout the book:

When you let your hurt from the past control you, you are tied to it forever. You will never change your life until you learn to let go the things that once hurt you.

Because no one can hurt us as much as those we love the most.

Sometimes all we need to do to forgive our parents is to understand their own childhoods.

I”d honestly recommend one of Karen White’s earlier books over this one, especially On Folly Beach…have I mentioned how much I love that book?!?

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Book Review: Let Me Die in His Footsteps

June 16, 2015 Book Review 6

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: Let Me Die in His FootstepsLet Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy
Published by Dutton on June 2nd, 2015
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Mystery, Southern
Pages: 336
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonBarnes & Noble
Goodreads

 

There’s an old wives tale/superstition that if a young girl looks down a well she will see the face of her future husband.  In a 1952 small Kentucky town, that belief is taken to extremes.  At exactly midnight, on the half-birthday between a girl’s 15th and 16th year, each girl in this small town looks down a well while most of the town looks on.  It is a celebratory event and one greatly anticipated by most girls.  For Annie Holleran, the half-birthday she expected and what actually occurred are vastly different.  Annie has the “know-how” just like her grandmother and her real mother, Aunt Juna.  Annie lives in fear her real mother will return after disappearing 15 1/2 years prior and after accusing the oldest Baine boy of raping her, fathering the baby that became Annie, and of disappearing Juna’s younger brother.

With the passages devoted to tobacco farming and lavender harvesting, Let Me Die in His Footsteps is infused with atmosphere.  Strong on southern gothic elements as evidenced with Aunt Juna’s “evil” black eye color.   The writing is solid; Roy has infused the novel with enough melancholy to allow the reader to feel immersed in the story while the mystery kept me guessing til the end.

What ‘old wives tales’ or superstitions did you hear growing up? or even still use to this day?

Thank you so much TLC Book Tours for inclusion in the Let Me Die in His Footsteps tour.

To read additional reviews please visit TLC Book Tours.

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Book Review: After the Rain

January 3, 2013 Book Review, reviews 15

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.

Book Review: After the RainAfter the Rain by Karen White
Published by NAL on December 31st 2012
Genres: Contemporary Women, Fiction, Southern
Pages: 384
Source: complimentary review copy
AmazonIndieBound
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Whenever I pick up a Karen White novel, I know I am in for a great few hours of reading, living vicariously through vividly drawn characters and their crazy Southern-fried lives.  After the Rain takes us back to the small town from Falling Home, little Walton, Georgia.  Not only do we return to Walton, but we are smack dab in the middle of the lives we left in Falling Home.  I still remember the moment I finished Falling Home and how I was laughing and crying at the same time!  Such a fabulous book! Here’s a guest post from the author regarding the Southern Perspective and Falling Home.

After the Rain begins with Suzanne Paris stepping off the Atlanta Greyhound Bus in Walton, Georgia.  Almost immediately Suzanne offends the Mayor when confronted with his six children in various half-dressed states running around the small-town store, and she states “Don’t they have leash laws in this state?”

Upon discovering that Suzanne has no place to stay, is not visiting “her people” and as a matter of fact, doesn’t know any people in Walton, the widowed Mayor finds a place for Suzanne to stay, although there is not a motel anywhere near Walton.  Soon, Aunt Lucinda (sister and caretaker to the Mayor’s six children) has Suzanne working for her in her lingerie shop and the oldest of the Mayor’s six children has Suzanne teaching her the finer points to photography upon discovering Suzanne is a gifted freelance photographer.

What no one knows in this small town is that Suzanne is on the run from her abusive ex-fiance.  And she has never been in a small-town community where everyone knows everyone and people care about you.  Suzanne comes from a life of moving in and out of foster homes and from a mother who chose the bottle rather than her daughter.  To be welcomed in Walton, to make friends and discover a life she didn’t even know she craved, Suzanne lays down her armor and allows her heart to be melted.  But there’s still one person intent on destroying Suzanne’s life.

Karen White has a way of pulling the reader into the story and can have you laughing one sentence and in tears the next.  It was so nice to re-visit several of the characters from Falling Home (one of my all-time favorite Karen White novels!).  Although in After the Rain I was put off by both Suzanne and the Mayor’s characters; I came to love the growth and development each went through in the novel ~ Suzanne learns to trust and heal while the Mayor and his brood of children learn to love and heal.  Karen White is also quite adept at pulling a community into the novel to where it is almost a character of itself ~ Walton, Georgia becomes a prime example.  And although After the Rain is a follow-up novel to Falling Home, it is not necessary to first read Falling Home. (but I would recommend you read Falling Home simply because it’s one of White’s most entertaining!)

It is with many thanks to Penguin that I received a complementary copy for review.

four-half-stars

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A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson

April 12, 2012 Book Review, reviews 13

A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn JacksonA Grown Up Kind Of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson
Published by Grand Central Publishing on January 25, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Southern
Pages: 322
Format: Audiobook
Source: purchased
Goodreads

Joshilyn Jackson hit the ball out of the freakin park with A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty!  Told in alternating voices of Big (Genny Slocum); her daughter, (Little) Liza Slocum; and the granddaughter, Mosey Willow Jane Grace Slocum.  If you have ever lived in the South, or know a true Southerner, then you will have heard many a time the southerner calling a loved-one’s full given name, especially if that loved one is in a heap of trouble!  I was laughing so hard and in a flash crying as well, at the descriptive antics of all involved, and knowing full well that in a small southern town, finding tiny bones in your backyard can never be a discreet, quiet event.

Big has decided to put in a pool to help her daughter, Liza, with the rehabilitation from a stroke four months prior.  In order to put the pool in, Liza’s beloved willow tree must go.  Mosey knows that no matter how gone her mother’s brain may be, removing the willow tree may very well destroy Liza…so on the day the tree is set to be cut down, Mosey hides with her best friend Roger (Raymond) in the backyard tree house.  From the moment the tree is cut down and the stump yanked out, life becomes a plethora of secrets revealed and kept and lives forever changed.

I listened to the audio version narrated by Ms. Jackson, herself, and her background in theater was incredibly apparent.  From Mosey’s higher-pitched teenage voice to Liza’s guttural noises as a result of the stroke and finally to Big’s no-nonsense, go-getter tones, the individuality of each character shone through…..Not to mention all of the side characters who each had their own voice!  That Ms. Jackson narrated A Grown Up Kind Of Pretty made the book that much more divine – she knew where the inflections should be, the pauses, how the vowel-like noises from Liza should actually sound and oh my, how she made these characters come alive ~ both through her writing and with her narration.

Ms. Jackson has a talent for exposing the underbelly of the fringes of society, then carefully stitching the pieces all back together with such a fine, yet strong, thread that you know if these characters can survive this (whatever this may happen to be) then they can survive anything.

For lovers of great southern literature, mother’s and daughters, family devotion and anyone who enjoys a romping good (read) audio!

In a Word: Delicious!

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