Tag Archives: Ashley Clark

Top 10 Tuesday — New-To-Me Authors

25 Jan

I love discovering new authors — it greatly enhances my TBR. LOL! Seriously, I really like a fresh voice. This week’s TTT is all about the new authors we read in 2021. I hope you find a new one to love!

For more new-to-you-and-me authors, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top New-To-Me Authors

Ashley Clark — The Dress Shop on King Street

Harper Dupree 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 how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton–the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman–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 to find 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.

Amanda Cox — The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery

Present Day. After tragedy plunges her into grief and unresolved anger, Sarah Ashby returns to her childhood home determined to finally follow her long-denied dream of running Old Depot Grocery alongside her mother and grandmother. But when she arrives, her mother, Rosemary, announces to her that the store is closing. Sarah and her grandmother, Glory Ann, make a pact to save the store, but Rosemary has worked her entire life to make sure her daughter never follows in her footsteps. She has her reasons–but she’ll certainly never reveal the real one.

1965. Glory Ann confesses to her family that she’s pregnant with her deceased fiancé’s baby. Pressured into a marriage of convenience with a shopkeeper to preserve the family reputation, Glory Ann vows never to love again. But some promises are not as easily kept as she imagined.

This dual-timeline story from Amanda Cox deftly explores the complexity of a mother-daughter dynamic, the way the secrets we keep shape our lives and the lives of others, and the healing power of telling the truth.

Nicole Deese — Before I Called You Mine

Lauren Bailey may be a romantic at heart, but after a decade of matchmaking schemes gone wrong, there’s only one match she’s committed to now – the one that will make her a mother. Lauren is a dedicated first-grade teacher in Idaho, and her love for children has led her to the path of international adoption. To satisfy her adoption agency’s requirements, she gladly agreed to remain single for the foreseeable future; however, just as her long wait comes to an end, Lauren is blindsided by a complication she never saw coming: Joshua Avery.

Joshua may be a substitute teacher by day, but Lauren finds his passion for creating educational technology as fascinating as his antics in the classroom. Although she does her best to downplay the undeniable connection between them, his relentless pursuit of her heart puts her commitment to stay unattached to the test and causes her once-firm conviction to waver.

Melissa Koslin — Never Miss

Former CIA sniper Kadance Tolle possesses a special set of skills and a rare pedigree. She comes from a family of assassins, and by saving Lyndon Vaile’s life she risks being found by them. Despite the danger, Kadance feels compelled to help Lyndon discover who is after him–and his research that seems to prove that the Ebola virus was manmade and is about to be weaponized.

With shadowy figures pursuing them and a Mastermind watching their every move, Kadance and Lyndon must scramble to stop an impending bioattack at the State of the Union address. But their warnings fall on deaf ears, and it becomes increasingly clear that there’s no one they can trust–except perhaps each other.

Strap in for a breakneck story that will have you up all night, hurtling toward the last page as the clock ticks and time runs out.

Stephenia McGee — The Cedar Key

Could the key to Casey’s future be hidden in someone else’s past?

Casey Adams unexpectedly inherits an old Victorian house full of other people’s memories. Stuck in a quirky little Mississippi town, Casey’s hope for a fresh start died as soon she had to lay the grandmother she’d just met to rest.

But Grandma Ida carried secrets beyond the grave.

Before her death Ida carefully planned a trail of clues to help Casey unlock the Macintyre family secrets and finally explain why they abandoned her. But each of Ida’s letters will only come from Casey’s handsome—and often frustrating—new neighbor. As Casey pieces together the stories behind the objects filling her grandmother’s house, she embarks on a heart-stirring journey that rattles her foundations, ignites her faith, and leads her to a startling discovery that will reshape her future. But only if she can face the lies that have been slowly tearing her apart.

Ramona Richards — Burying Daisy Doe

No cold case is more important than the one that destroyed her own family

Every small town has one unsolved case that haunts its memory, festering for generations below the surface with the truth of humanity’s darkness. Star Cavanaugh is obsessed with the one that tore her family apart.

Over sixty years ago, Daisy Doe was murdered and discarded outside Pineville, Alabama, buried without a name or anyone to mourn her loss. When Star’s father tried to solve the case, he was also killed. Now a cold-case detective with resources of her own, Star is determined to get to the bottom of both crimes. But she’ll have to face an entire town locked in corruption, silence, and fear–and the same danger that took two other lives. The only people in the town she can trust are her grandmother and the charming Mike Luinetti, and both of them trust a God Star isn’t sure she believes in. Can Christians so focused on the good really help her track down this evil?

With an irresistible combination of sharp suspense, faith, humor, and authentic regional flavor, Burying Daisy Doe will draw fans of Terri Blackstock, Margaret Maron, Jaime Jo Wright, and J.T. Ellison.

Carmen Schober — After She Falls

She’s always had that fire in her. She just needs to find it again.

Strong-willed Adri Rivera nearly achieved her goal of being a professional mixed martial artist, but then she fell in love with a man who knocked all the fight out of her. When their abusive, tumultuous relationship finally comes to a head, Adri flees with their young daughter to her small hometown in the mountains of Pennsylvania. There, she must face the people she left behind and put her broken life back together again. 

A hardened Max Lyons can’t believe Adri is back in town after abruptly cutting him and everyone else off years ago. Despite the distance that grew between them, he feels compelled to help her regain her independence and offers her a job at his gym. But regaining each other’s trust is another matter, made even more complicated by the lingering spark between them. As Adri dares to pursue her dream again, she trains for a big tournament with Max’s help, but they’ll both have to confront their own doubts in order to rise victorious.

Rhona Weaver — Noble Calling

A Southern farm boy who loves God and family, college football and America, rookie FBI agent Win Tyler lives in pursuit of making the world a better place. But when he becomes embroiled in a major political corruption case on the East Coast that takes a bad turn, he is exiled by the Bureau to a do-nothing post in Yellowstone National Park. Dejected by the demotion, and with his heart heavy from the sting of a bad breakup, Win arrives in Yellowstone deeply conflicted as to his true calling in life.

Win quickly finds himself confronting pure evil when anti-government militiamen attempt to violently disrupt the park’s dedication of a Jewish monument. The militia leader, a self-styled prophet, exploits the day’s mayhem to advance an even more sinister agenda. The demands of Win’s job test his courage and faith as he is faced with hazardous river rescues, dangerous wildlife, and hostile terrain. Feeling desperate and alone, he strives to build partnerships with park rangers and with one of the most enigmatic and dangerous militiamen, who may or may not be an ally in the Bureau’s fight against domestic terrorism. But within this increasingly tangled web of deceit, violence, and revenge, everyone’s motives are questioned.

Set amid the stunning landscape of Yellowstone National Park, A Noble Calling is a story of suspense and intrigue about a young man seeking redemption and his true identity. It is the first book in the FBI Yellowstone Adventure series.

Top 10 Tuesday — 2021 Releases I Didn’t Read (Who is surprised!)

18 Jan

Every year I vow to read more from my TBR shelves, to be purposeful in the books I acquire. And every year total failure! I really have no self-control when it comes to books. The following are 2021 books still on my NetGalley shelves. I don’t even want to list those that are on my Kindle or my physical shelves.

For more bloggers who are big fat failures too didn’t meet their reading goals last year 😉 , check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Top 2021 Releases I Didn’t Read

The Chase by Lisa Harris

Dead Fall by Nancy Mehl

A Midnight Dance by Davidson Joanna Politano

The Nature of A Lady by Roseanna M. White

Paint And Nectar by Ashley Clark

The Paris Betrayal by James R. Hannibal

The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Woman in The Shadows by Carrie Stuart Parks

A Woman of Words by Angela Hunt

Top 10 Tuesday — Best Books Read in 2021

28 Dec

I read a lot less books in 2021 than I did in previous years. Some of that was by design, and some was because, well, life. But fewer books did not mean less enjoyment — I had a lot of great reading experiences! Limiting my list to 10 is too hard, so I have split the books into categories: historical, time-split, contemporary and suspense. There should be something for everyone!

For more Best of The Best in 2021, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

Best Books Read in 2021

Contemporary

Before I Called You Mine by Nicole Deese

Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

When I Close My Eyes by Elizabeth Musser

Historical

The Barrister And The Letter of Marque by Todd M. Johnson

Mountain Laurel by Lori Benton

The Nature of Small Birds by Susie Finkbeiner

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Under The Bayou Moon by Valerie Fraser Luesse

When Twilight Breaks by Sarah Sundin

Suspense

Burying Daisy Doe by Ramona Richards

Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell

Lights Out by Natalie Walters

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

Port of Origin by Lisa Harris and Lynne Gentry

Time-Slip

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

The London House by Katherine Reay

Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson

The Secret Keepers of Old Depot Grocery by Amanda Cox

Top 10 Tuesday — If You Liked . . .

16 Nov

Every month I come up with a If You Liked post for the novel my book club read. I try to list at least 3 books that have something in common with our monthly selection — setting, theme, historical elements, etc. I have shared this before on TTT, but I have some new recommendations. My list includes several genres — something for everyone. I hope you find a book to love! 🙂

Top Books to Read if You Liked . . .

If you liked Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan, a time-slip novel set in the South with an historical mystery, then try . . .

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

***********************

If you liked Memories of Glass by Melanie Dobson, a book set during WWII, which features those who heroically saved the Jewish people, then try . . .

Defy The Night by Heather And Lydia Munn

The Medallion by Cathy Gohlke

When The Heart Sings by Liz Tolsma

***********************

If you liked The Cedar Key by Stephenia McGee, a novel with a small town setting that focuses on second chances, then try . . .

The Dandelion Field by Kathryn Springer

Secrets Over Sweet Tea by Denise Hildreth Jones

Star Rising by Janet W. Ferguson

***********************

If you liked Everywhere to Hide by Siri Mitchell, a suspense novel with an unusual main character who is not in law enforcement, then try . . .

Formula for Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

Never Miss by Melissa Koslin

Taken by Dee Henderson

If You Liked . . . Surviving Savannah

31 Aug

My book club liked Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan. Some said they liked it more than they expected. It has a good mix of historical detail and modern-day mystery and the strong female characters appealed to us. Its southern setting didn’t hurt 😉 . If you liked it too, here are a few more reading recommendations.

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

Harper Dupree 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 how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman — 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 to find 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.

Hope Between The Pages by Pepper Basham

Uncover the Story Behind a One-Hundred-Year-Old Love Letter

Clara Blackwell helps her mother manage a struggling one-hundred-year old family bookshop in Asheville, North Carolina, but the discovery of a forgotten letter opens a mystery of a long-lost romance and undiscovered inheritance which could save its future. Forced to step outside of her predictable world, Clara embarks on an adventure with only the name Oliver as a hint of the man’s identity in her great-great-grandmother’s letter. From the nearby grand estate of the Vanderbilts, to a hamlet in Derbyshire, England, Clara seeks to uncover truth about family and love that may lead to her own unexpected romance.

The Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Can a Legacy of Sadness be Broken at the Menger Hotel?

Young widow Hedda Krause checks into the Menger Hotel in 1915 with a trunk full of dresses, a case full of jewels, and enough cash to pay for a two-month stay, which she hopes will be long enough to meet, charm, and attach herself to a new, rich husband. Her plans are derailed when a ghostly apparition lures her into a long, dark hallway, and Hedda returns to her room to find her precious jewelry has been stolen. She falls immediately under a cloud of suspicion with her haunting tale, but true ghost enthusiasts bring her expensive pieces of jewelry in an attempt to lure the ghost to appear again.

In 2017, Dini Blackstone is a fifth-generation magician, who performs at private parties, but she also gives ghost walk tours, narrating the more tragic historical events of San Antonio with familial affection. Above all, her favorite is the tale of Hedda Krause who, in Dini’s estimation, succeeded in perpetrating the world’s longest con, dying old and wealthy from her ghost story. But then Dini meets Quinn Carmichael, great-great-grandson of the detective who originally investigated Hedda’s case, who’s come to the Alamo City with a box full of clues that might lead to Hedda’s exoneration. Can Dini see another side of the story that is worthy of God’s grace?

Book Review: The Dress Shop on King Street

7 Jan

I love it when the new year starts out with an excellent book! The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark checked all the boxes — lovely characters, interesting historical details, a plot that kept me engaged. It is a 5-star if ever I have read one!

 

Harper Dupree 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 how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman —  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 to find 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.

Ashley Clark in her own words:

I write romantic women’s fiction set in the South, and The Dress Shop on King Street is my debut novel. I have a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and enjoy teaching literature and writing courses as an adjunct. I’ve been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost decade! When I’m not writing, I’m re-watching You’ve Got Mail, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English Breakfast tea I can get my hands on.

My journey to publication took ten years, so I am a huge believer that sometimes God-dreams can take a while to grow, and that’s really what The Dress Shop on King Street is all about. If you, too, are holding a dream that feels invisible or altogether gone, I hope you’ll come away encouraged that perhaps you are simply in a mending season, where God is still strengthening your dream at the seams.

 

My Impressions:

It is a rare occurrence to find a debut novel that gives the impression that the author has been published for decades, but The Dress Shop on King Street is just such a book. Complexly plotted with settings that came alive for this reader, its characterization is what won me over. I could not get enough of Millie and Franklin and Harper and Peter. Set against the backdrop of the American South in the 1940s to the present, the book grabbed me from the get-go and refused to let me go after the last page was turned. What a great way to start 2021!

The Dress Shop on King Street is a dual timeline novel. It follows Millie Middleton a biracial woman who passes for white. Clark does an admirable job of re-creating the racial tensions/violence that followed Millie from the 1940s to the present. Stuck between two heritages, Millie does her best to live up to the promises she makes to her mother when she leaves Charleston for the safety of Fairhope, Alabama. I loved Millie’s character so much. Clark made her experiences personal for this white woman of 2021. All of the main characters are wonderful, though, with each having very endearing qualities and very real flaws. Charleston and Fairhope were vividly described in their past beauty and ugliness and their present-day reality. Identity is a big theme — what makes us who we are and our response to our heritage. Dreams and aspirations are also explored, as characters grapple with going ahead and letting go. A faith message is subtly woven throughout the narrative. One passage late in the book really grabbed me. Millie has a hard time believing that God is more capable of managing her life than she is. I can really relate to that!

If you are looking for an excellent way to start out your new year reading, then consider The Dress Shop on King Street. I loved that 2021 started out with a 5-star novel!

Highly Recommended.

Audience: adults.

(I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House Publishers. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

 

 

 

First Line Friday — The Dress Shop on King Street

25 Dec

Merry Christmas! Did Santa leave you a bunch of books under the tree? As I am writing this post, I don’t expect any bookish gifts. However, I play Santa to myself, so . . . . 😉

This week I am featuring my current read — The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark. This debut novel has grabbed me from the opening page. I anticipate some leisurely reading enjoyment in my future.

 

Here’s the first sentence:

 

The candlelight sent a shadow of Rose up against the wooden wall.

 

Harper Dupree 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 how to sew. As Harper rethinks her own future, long-hidden secrets about Millie’s past are brought to light.

In 1946, Millie Middleton — the daughter of an Italian man and a Black woman — 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 to find 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.

 

Ashley Clark in her own words:

I write romantic women’s fiction set in the South, and The Dress Shop on King Street is my debut novel. I have a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and enjoy teaching literature and writing courses as an adjunct. I’ve been an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers for almost decade! When I’m not writing, I’m re-watching You’ve Got Mail, dreaming of Charleston, and drinking all the English Breakfast tea I can get my hands on.

My journey to publication took ten years, so I am a huge believer that sometimes God-dreams can take a while to grow, and that’s really what The Dress Shop on King Street is all about. If you, too, are holding a dream that feels invisible or altogether gone, I hope you’ll come away encouraged that perhaps you are simply in a mending season, where God is still strengthening your dream at the seams.

 

Are you reading on this Christmas Day?

What is your first line?

 

For more first line fun, head to Hoarding Books.

 

Top Ten Tuesday — Winter TBR

15 Dec

Baby, it’s cold outside! At least for middle Georgia, that is. I know many of you have already had snow and really, really cold temperatures, but in the sunny South it is officially winter when we have to put on a coat. 😉 All that to say — welcome Winter and the Winter TBR! This week I am featuring books that I want to get read in the next few months. Some are book club selections, others are awaiting reviews, and some are just because. There are a variety of genres too — historical, suspense, Regency, romance — something for everyone. I hope you find one from my list that you will love too.

For more fun TBR lists, check out That Artsy Reader Girl.

 

 

Top 10 Books on The Winter TBR

 

Cold Case Pursuit by Dana Mentink

The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark

The Earl’s Lady Geologist by Alissa Baxter

 

For The Love of Joy by Janet W. Ferguson

Illusion by Ginny Yttrup

Lady in Residence by Allison Pittman

Lethal Intent by Cara Putman

 

The Moonlight School by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Network of Deceit by Tom Threadgill

Tidewater Bride by Laura Frantz