Sunday, April 24, 2016

Love, Loss & Healing Can Be Found In The Atonement

Last week I finished reading The Atonement, by Beverly Lewis. The story is about Lucy Flaud, a young woman who has booked herself busy to avoid dealing with grief suffered in her past. As a young Amish woman who has passed the typical courting age, she is determined to remain single despite the attentions of her old friend Tobe Glick.  Glimpses of her past are woven into the story and I found myself wondering what she could have done that prompted her to give so much of her time to serving others. Volunteering is a wonderful opportunity but for Lucy, it is all-consuming.  She is touched by Kiana, a young single mother who has been living in shelters and on the streets with her son Van.

In the beginning, Lucy's father Christian is arriving at his first grief support group meeting at the community church.  His outward reason for attending is to get over the death of his father three years before. Here he is paired with Dale Wyeth, a young Englisher. Dale is interested in living a simpler lifestyle and to Christian's surprise he invited the young man to visit his farm to see how the plain community lives. Lucy was very annoyed with this and can't believe her father did this.

Lucy didn't trust Dale at first but as their lives intersect through the story Dale helps her find ways to help Kiana.  He admires her commitment to others and she is intrigued by his profound faith. In the process of helping others, her family is dismayed at the growing friendship between her and the outsider.  She is spotted by members of her community riding in his pickup on more than one occasion, including a Sunday.  Her father's concern about Dale is only surpassed by the damaged relationship with his daughter.

I liked the book for many reasons. The lessons of love and faith are prominent as Lucy finds her way back to the church. Clues to her mysterious past were doled out in pieces. For years Lucy occasionally saw a happy elderly couple meeting on the bridge in celebration. When she meets them and hears their story she begins to heal. Everything turns out well, in true Beverly Lewis fashion but telling this  young woman's journey is worth opening the cover and turning the page.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Keep Guessing with A Fool & His Monet

A Fool and His MonetSandra Orchard introduces Serena Jones, a young, vibrant FBI Art Crime Agent in A Fool & His Monet. When two paintings are discovered missing from the Forest Park Museum, Serena is quietly called to the scene by her friend Zoe David, head of security. Following renovations at the museum, Zoe isn't quite sure when the Monet and Rijckaert went missing so no publicity is the best publicity on this case.

As the story unfolds Serena is joined by  her Aunt Martha, an expert television crime show fan along with her mentor Tanner and apartment complex manager Nate. Red herrings surface along the way to the solution, but not before we meet Serena's mother, who is eager to marry her off before she gets killed in the line of duty and her father, a quiet college professor.  Dinner time is a hoot as they discuss cases, Serena's love life and Aunt Martha's tips to catch the thief!

No spoilers around here and there are a few, believe me.  I was intrigued how the author organized the crime and the extremes the criminal went to in order avoid being caught. What began as a seemingly easy heist lead to murder and mayhem that all seemed unrelated until Serena came on the scene.  All in all if you like mysteries, give this one a try. Good plot, fun characters and an author who does her research!  Sandra Orchard has another Serena Jones mystery in the works so be ready for another art crime caper.