Blogaversary!

Hard to believe nine years ago I started this blog, mostly to keep track of my thoughts on books. It has become a community I enjoy being a part of.

This year I have expanded my book reading by buying a kindle and joining Netgalley. Now I have the privilege of reading ebook arcs. It has been nice when I travel to just pack the kindle and having access to my books in one place makes the packing lighter and easier!

I am looking forward to another year of reading and reviewing.

Message in the Sand

Author: Hannah McKinnon
Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Gena at Simon & Schuster

Goodreads: Wendell Combs is as local as they come. Born and raised in the small town of Saybrook, Connecticut, his venture into the larger world was met with heartbreak. Now, middle-aged and a confirmed bachelor, he seeks solitude from his tour of duty as a soldier back in his hometown, working as head caretaker for wealthy Alan Lancaster’s forty-acre estate, White Pines, a place he has come to love for its beauty, peace, and quiet.

Alan’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Julia, also loves White Pines, but for very different reasons. She and her little sister spend their days riding horses, swimming in the lake, and painting landscapes inspired by the property they adore. While her parents prepare to host their annual summer gala fundraiser, Julia’s eyes are set to the simpler joys of summer: she’s fallen in love with the boy-next-door and longs for their next encounter.

But as the last guests leave on that magical summer night, a tragedy no one could have predicted suddenly occurs, shaking the entire town to its core. Wendell and Julianow face an uncertain future. At the height of their grief, two very different women return to Saybrook: Ginny Foster, Wendell’s first love, who cannot stay away any longer, and Candace Lancaster, Julia’s estranged aunt who wants nothing to do with the town or the family estate she escaped decades earlier. Now, the only familiar things Julia has to cling to are Wendell and White Pines, but it looks like she’s about to lose both…

Ope’s Opinion: When I started this book I had very high expectations. I have read Hannah McKinnon before and was swept away, so I was expecting that again. I also have to admit I started reading this when I in a very busy time of my life. So take my thoughts with all that in mind.

I am not sure why this one did not sweep me away. I did enjoy it, but I felt I was watching it all take place from a distance instead of being involved in the story. It took a while to get to know the characters. I think Julia’s perspective was my favorite part of the book. I will definitely read another Hannah McKinnon and I am glad I read this one.

The Beach House

Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Romance
Source: Bookouture ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: When her gram passes away, Melanie Simpson feels utterly lost. She has no idea what to do with her life after she has devoted years to looking after her beloved grandmother.

But Gram’s will may hold the answer, instructing Melanie to use her inheritance to buy a crumbling house in Rosemary Bay. They used to visit the village every summer, sit by the sparkling gulf on a beach the color of a fresh pearl, and daydream about turning the place on the corner into a bed and breakfast.

Fulfilling her grandmother’s legacy, Melanie decides to restore the beach house to its original glory. She sets out on renovations of the wrap-around porch weathered by the coastal breeze, and the peeling white paint faded by the sun.

When Melanie runs into local carpenter, Josh Claiborne, whose eyes match the dazzling sea, she jumps at the chance to ask him for help. But that’s the last thing he wants. He’s off to New York soon, leaving his troubled past behind. Over a game of darts Melanie gets her wish, even if Josh isn’t happy about it.

As they work together, Melanie tries to ignore their undeniable chemistry and how Josh’s rare smiles take her breath away––because soon they’ll be thousands of miles apart. But hiding in a closet is a yellowing stack of letters that could change everything. The looping handwriting reveals the mystery of the rickety house––a buried history that touches everyone in Rosemary Bay. Will its secrets bring Melanie and Josh together or tear them apart?

An absolutely gorgeous and heartwarming read about never-ending love, new beginnings, and how family is always with you, no matter where you are. Fans of Pamela Kelley, Mary Alice Monroe and Susan Mallery will adore this romantic page-turner.

Ope’s Opinion: This book was my favorite kind romance – a slow moving relationship between the two main characters, other interesting characters, and more to the story than just their relationship. There was also mystery intermingled in the their lives that added another dimension to the story.

This was a wonderful read that I just enjoyed from start to finish. Speaking of finish – the end was all you expect and want from a romance story. I am looking forward to Jenny Hale’s next book.

All That Really Matters

Author: Nicole Deese
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Bethany House Publishers ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Molly McKenzie’s bright personality and on-trend fashion and beauty advice have earned her an impressive social media following, as well as a big paycheck each month. When her manager-turned-boyfriend says she has an audition to appear as a host on a makeover show that nominates underprivileged youth, her dream of further fame seems to be coming true. There’s just one catch: she has little experience interacting with people in need.

When her manager-boyfriend convinces her to partner with a local organization, she begins volunteering with a summer youth program. The program’s director, Silas Whittaker, challenges her at every turn, but she swiftly grows more attached to the kids–and him–every day.

As Molly experiences an acceptance unlike anything she’s known, she wrestles with the lies she’s been believing about herself for years. She thought she knew what mattered most in life, but maybe she’s had it wrong this whole time, and there’s more to being truly seen than what she’s built her entire life on.

Ope’s Opinions: This definitely is a wonderful Christian Fiction, but not preachy at all. The cast of characters were authentic and all had flaws ( as we do ). Reading about them dealing with their own flaws and the flaws of others was so realistic. The changes Molly makes from the beginning of the book until end, felt so genuine. As you read, you can see and feel her grow.

Parts of the story seemed enjoyably predictable, but there were enough unexpected turns to make me want to keep reading to see where it was going to go. It moved at a pace that kept my attention from beginning to end.

The ending was what I wanted, but I am wishing for a sequel to see where Miles, Val, Wren, etc. are now.

One Little Lie

Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher:
Thomas Nelson
Genre:
Christian Fiction
Source:
Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth. 

Book one in a gripping new series from USA TODAY bestselling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble.

When Jane Hardy is appointed interim sheriff in Pelican Harbor, Alabama, after her father retires, there’s no time for an adjustment period. He is arrested for theft and then implicated in a recent murder, and Jane quickly realizes she’s facing someone out to destroy her father.

They escaped from a cult fifteen years ago, and Jane has searched relentlessly for her mother—who refused to leave—ever since. Could someone from that horrible past have found them?

Reid Bechtol is a well-known journalist who makes documentaries, and his sights are currently set on covering Jane’s career. Jane has little interest in the attention, but the committee who appointed her loves the idea of the publicity.

Jane finds herself depending on Reid’s calm manner as he follows her around taping his documentary, and they begin working together to clear her father. But Reid has his own secrets from the past, and the gulf between them may be impossible to cross.

It started with one little lie. But Jane Hardy will do everything in her power to uncover the truth.

Ope’s Opinion: It took me a little while to get into this book. I was willing to take the time with this book because it is the beginning of a series. You know when you start reading a series that the author is setting you up for future books.

The mystery in this book seemed to be secondary to developing the characters. There was a little romance sprinkled into the story – you can tell there is more to come from this.

I have Two Reasons to Run on my shelf. I will be reading that as soon as I can fit in to my schedule.

Coming Soon…

…. On a Bookshelf near you!

In June I hope to read….

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Publication Date:June 15, 2021
Publisher: Atria / Emily Bestler Books

Goodreads: An emotional and unforgettable tale of a small town irrevocably affected by an unforeseen and shocking event—from the author of the “charming gem of a novel” (Elin Hilderbrand, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Mystic Summer .

Wendell Combs is as local as they come. Born and raised in the small town of Saybrook, Connecticut, his venture into the larger world was met with heartbreak. Now, middle-aged and a confirmed bachelor, he seeks solitude from his tour of duty as a soldier back in his hometown, working as head caretaker for wealthy Alan Lancaster’s forty-acre estate, White Pines, a place he has come to love for its beauty, peace, and quiet.

Alan’s eldest daughter, fifteen-year-old Julia, also loves White Pines, but for very different reasons. She and her little sister spend their days riding horses, swimming in the lake, and painting landscapes inspired by the property they adore. While her parents prepare to host their annual summer gala fundraiser, Julia’s eyes are set to the simpler joys of summer: she’s fallen in love with the boy-next-door and longs for their next encounter.

But as the last guests leave on that magical summer night, a tragedy no one could have predicted suddenly occurs, shaking the entire town to its core. Wendell and Julia now face an uncertain future. At the height of their grief, two very different women return to Saybrook: Ginny Feldman, Wendell’s first love, who cannot stay away any longer, and Candace Lancaster, Julia’s estranged aunt who wants nothing to do with the town or the family estate she escaped decades earlier. Now, the only familiar things Julia has to cling to are Wendell and White Pines, but it looks like she’s about to lose both…

What is coming soon …. to a bookshelf near you?

Let me know – I am always looking for a good read!

Before the Crown

Author: Flora Harding
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Historical Fiction
Source: One More Chapter ( Netgalley )

Goodreads:

Before the crown there was a love story…

’If you’re a fan of The Crown, you’ll love this’ Woman’s Weekly

‘Fascinating…a beautiful love story’ Woman

Windsor Castle, 1943

As war rages across the world, Princess Elizabeth comes face to face with the dashing naval officer she first met in London nine years before.

One of the youngest first lieutenants in the Royal Navy, Philip represents everything she has always been taught to avoid. Instability. Audacity. Adventure.

But when the king learns of their relationship, the suitability of the foreign prince is questioned by all at court.

He is the risk she has never been allowed to take. The risk not even the shadow of the crown will stop her from taking…

Step through the palace gates and discover a captivating historical novel of royal secrets and forbidden love exploring the tempestuous courtship between Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip in the wake of WWII.

Ope’s Opinion: As I was reading I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a non-fiction book. It was written so well, with so many facts in it that I kept thinking how accurate this story was. I am not your typical historical reader – I only read a few each year. I picked this one and it was a very good choice.

I liked where Flora Harding ended this love story. I hope she chooses to write another fiction for the next part of their story. It would be interesting to see her perspective.

Sunkissed

Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Delacorte Press ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!

After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.

But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.

Ope’s Opinion: Kasie West reminded me how much I enjoy a YA read. This one had the perfect pace with wonderful characters. I especially enjoyed that the parents were included, but not intrusive. The sisters relationship was realistic. The romance happened at a natural pace of progression.

I enjoy strong woman characters at the center of stories. Avery may not have started out strong, but she grew during her whole summer at camp. It was great to see her figure out who she was, what she wanted and how to get it without stomping on anyone else.

I would recommend this to any teen and the parent would enjoy reading it too.

Let It Be Me

Author: Becky Wade
Publisher: Bethany House Publishsers
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Bethany House Publishers

Goodreads: Having graduated college at 18, Sebastian Grant has continued to leverage his intelligence and determination to become a pediatric heart surgeon. The more accolades he receives, the more he’s driven to pursue. Then he meets high school math teacher Leah Montgomery, and his fast-spinning world comes to a sudden stop.

Solving advanced math equations by the age of five, Leah has always wanted to pursue a PhD in mathematics. She willingly put that dream on hold to raise her brother. Now that he is of age, she’s set on avoiding any obstacles to her goal–including romance.

When Leah receives surprising news in the process of taking a test for tracking her ancestry, she asks Sebastian to help her comb through aged hospital records to learn more. Soon his presence isn’t so easily ignored. But when Sebastian learns his best friend also has feelings for Leah, he begins to question his resolve to win her. Attaining their deepest desires may require more sacrifices than they ever imagined.

Ope’s Opinion: This story is very God centered ( which it should be – it is Christian fiction ), but not preachy. The romance moves really slowly – almost too slowly. It kept repeating their thoughts of how they liked each other, but the relationship did not advance for some time. I did like how direct Leah was with Ben. I didn’t even realize this book was part of series, so you can read this alone( I did! ).

Leah figuring out her parentage was very interesting. It felt like a mystery thrown in with the romance. It was a nice balance of relationships with Leah’s parents, her brother and Sebastian. All the relationships are the center of the story.

The ending answered the questions Leah had about her history. It also left things open for the next book. I do wish Ben would have his own story.