What Was Mine

 

                                                               Author: Helen Klein Ross
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre:  Mystery
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  Simply told but deeply affecting, in the bestselling tradition of Alice McDermott and Tom Perrotta, this urgent novel unravels the heartrending yet unsentimental tale of a woman who kidnaps a baby in a superstore—and gets away with it for twenty-one years.

Lucy Wakefield is a seemingly ordinary woman who does something extraordinary in a desperate moment: she takes a baby girl from a shopping cart and raises her as her own. It’s a secret she manages to keep for over two decades—from her daughter, the babysitter who helped raise her, family, coworkers, and friends.

When Lucy’s now-grown daughter Mia discovers the devastating truth of her origins, she is overwhelmed by confusion and anger and determines not to speak again to the mother who raised her. She reaches out to her birth mother for a tearful reunion, and Lucy is forced to flee to China to avoid prosecution. What follows is a ripple effect that alters the lives of many and challenges our understanding of the very meaning of motherhood.

Author Helen Klein Ross, whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, weaves a powerful story of upheaval and resilience told from the alternating perspectives of Lucy, Mia, Mia’s birth mother, and others intimately involved in the kidnapping. What Was Mine is a compelling tale of motherhood and loss, of grief and hope, and the life-shattering effects of a single, irrevocable moment.

Ope’s Opinion:  When you read this you will have to accept the story as is because there are several things that are just not realistic.    It started out very intense, but quickly got into every day mundane life.  Then an unbelievable event and some more intense parts.

The story is told from a lot of different points of view.  It is interesting to hear from the kidnapper as well as the mother, and many more people effected by the kidnapping.

I was back and forth between three and four chairs until the end – it was left wide open – the book felt unfinished.  I don’t want to say too much more, so I don’t spoil it.

The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living

Author: Louise Miller
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads: A full-hearted novel about a big-city baker who discovers the true meaning of home–and that sometimes the best things are found when you didn’t even know you were looking

When Olivia Rawlings–pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club–sets not just her flambeed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of–the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.

Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired–to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.

With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.

But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee–or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected–it could be even better.

Ope’s Opinion:  I was waffling between a three and four chair on this book. Here is why – 

3 chair side – the main character’s character is questionable.  She made some decisions I didn’t really think were great.  She was also not reliable – she took off whenever life got difficult without thinking of those she left behind and what it did to them.

4 chair side – the Vermont country side was described beautifully ( felt like I was there ), I could have eaten the food they were making, and there were many wonderful characters that I really cared about.

Final decision – 4 chairs because the story was wonderful, the town and people in made me feel close to them, and the ending was all I wanted to be.  I would read another book by Louise Miller.

The Daughters Join the Party

                                                               Author: Joanna Philbin
Publisher: Poppy Books
Genre: Young Adult
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  They didn’t ask for fame. They were born with it.

In the third Daughters novel, The Daughters Take the Stage, Hudson found her own place in “the family business,” aka: show business. Now, for the first time, readers will meet Emma Conway, daughter of a powerful New York State Senator.

Emma has never fit into the sweater-set-wearing world of her political family, opting for purple hair and Chuck Taylors to keep herself out of countless photo ops, but when she accidentally lets her father’s presidential plans slip on national television, Emma finds herself thrown into the spotlight. Facing pressure to be the perfect First Daughter-in-training, Emma must learn to speak up for herself and for what she believes in. Thankfully, she has her new friends and fellow daughters – Lizzie, Carina, and Hudson – to help her along the way.

Ope’s Opinion: I read the second one of this series and wasn’t thrilled with it, but already owned the fourth, so I thought I would read it.  It is much better then the second one.  It is part of the series, but you can read it alone.

This one was focused on Emma and her becoming friends with Lizzie, Carina and Hudson.  It was also about her father running for office.  It was still a little too woe is me for people with a lot of money.

It reads fast and easy.  If you need something to just pass the time, you could pick this one up.  All the problems are there, then quickly solved with not very many consequences, so I would not want my teen to read this.

The Wedding Shop

Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  Two women separated by decades. Both set out to help others find their dreams when their own have crumbled.

It’s the early 1930s, but Cora Scott is walking in stride as a career woman after having inherited her great aunt’s wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, where brides come from as far away as Birmingham to experience her famed bridal treatment. Meanwhile, Cora is counting down the days until her own true love returns from the river to make her his bride. But days turn into months and months to years. All the while, Birch Good continues to woo Cora and try to show her that while he is solid and dependable, he can sweep her off her feet.

More than eighty years later, former Air Force Captain Haley Morgan has returned home to Heart’s Bend after finishing her commitment to military service. After the devastating death of her best friend, Tammy, and discovering the truth about the man she loved, Haley is searching for her place in life.

When Haley decides to reopen the romantic but abandoned wedding shop where she and Tammy played and dreamed as children, she begins a journey of courage, mystery, and love.

As Cora’s and Haley’s stories intertwine through time in the shadow of the beloved wedding shop, they both discover the power of their own dreams and the magic of everyday love.

Ope’s Opinion: This is the third of The Wedding Collection books.  You can read this alone, but it really is better if you start with the first book The Wedding Dress.  This book had both a historic story line and a contemporary story line.

It was wonderful to see where and how the wedding shop got started and where it was now.  The story started slow and built as you read it.  As I read, I became more invested in the characters and their out come.

The ending was all you would have wanted and expected from this story.

 

Keeper by Surprise

Author: Laurie Larsen
Publisher: Random Moon Books
Genre: Romance
Source: Purchased

 

Goodreads:  College life provides the reprieve Keith Hanson dreamed of while growing up in his father’s strict household. Now, he concentrates on keeping his grades up (just enough to get Dad off his back), and loving his girlfriend Carly. He never knew life could be this good. Until a terrible accident leaves his parents killed, and Keith named as guardian over his three siblings. Although only 20, he’s the one now who has to earn money to support the family and take care of the kids. Including the discipline, something his teenage sister Dana is totally lacking.

Brand new social worker Lisa Carle has a lot to prove to her boss about her ability to do a good job. But it’s hard to focus on professionalism when she’s falling in love with the client. Can the two of them help each other? And will their budding relationship survive screaming twins, a teenage runaway and an unethical boss?

Ope’s Opinion:  I enjoyed this book.  It showed the struggle that Keith had stepping up to be a parent before he was prepared to be.  The reason and the way the social services were called into this family situation did not seem very realistic to me.  

Just a bit too descriptive of sexual thoughts and activity.  I didn’t enjoy reading that part – some was at the beginning of the book – which made me almost stop reading it all together.  It also ended up not being all the important in the story.

It was a predictable romance with the ending you would expect. 

What You Wish For

Author: Kerry Reichs
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre:  Chick lit
Source: Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

Goodreads:  If what you wish for is a delightfully bittersweet novel filled with endearing, eccentric characters and situations in the vein of Jennifer Weiner, Jane Green, Marian Keyes, and Meg Cabot, then Kerry Reichs’s What You Wish For is the answer to your prayers. The daughter of forensic crime fiction superstar Kathy Reichs (bestselling creator of the Temperence Brennan mystery series, the basis for TV’s Bones), Kerry Reichs’s writing talent is ingrained in her DNA, as she’s already demonstrated with her previous books, Leaving Unknown and The Best Day of Someone Else’s Life. Her third novel, What You Wish For, is a tender, loving, funny, and unforgettable tale of five “modern” families, each one following a very different road to happiness, and yet another bravura example of Kerry Reichs’s phenomenal storytelling abilities.

Ope’s Opinion:  There are a lot of characters you are introduced to at the beginning of the book.  It took me a little while to get attached to each one and figure out where their story lines were headed.  The more I read, the more invested I was in their quest for a child or to be understood why they didn’t want a child.  

I did not see how all the story lines were going to intersect at the beginning of the book.  It was interesting to see how the author wove each of their lives together.  The ending was all you wanted it to be, it let you know where everyone was.  The ending made the rest of the book for me.

The Wedding Chapel

Author: Rachel Hauck
Publisher: Zondervan
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  An old, forgotten chapel holds the key to love and forgiveness.

Retired hall-of-fame football coach Jimmy Westbrook never imagined anything would come of his labor of love—building a wedding chapel for Collette Greer, the woman he fell in love with in 1949. But now a realtor wants the land the chapel sits on, and he sees no reason to hang onto the past.

Photographer Taylor Branson is trying to make a life for herself in New York. Leaving her hometown of Heart’s Bend, Tennessee, she put a lot of things behind her, including her family’s string of failed marriages. When she falls head-over-heels for Jack Gillingham, a top ad man, their whirlwind romance and elopement leave her with doubts. Jack, while genuine in his love for Taylor, can never seem to find the right way to show her he really cares.

When a post-mortem letter from Taylor’s Granny Peg shows up, along with an old photo, she is driven to uncover family secrets and the secret to her own happiness, starting with an assignment to photograph an unknown, obscure wedding chapel back in Heart’s Bend.

Taylor begins a mission to convince Jimmy that the chapel is worth saving—and that forgiveness and healing might happen within the chapel’s walls . . . for both of them.

Ope’s Opinion:  I really enjoy Christian Fiction and this one was above and beyond the average!  Rachel Hauck is one of the authors that I go to for a good read.  She has characters in this book that are real, with flaws and real world difficulties.  The characters don’t always handle things the best way, which feels so real.  It shows God’s forgiveness – which we all need.

This ended as you would expect, but the journey to get there was what made the read worthwhile.

Return to Virgin River

Author: Robyn Carr
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Romance
Source: Katie at Little Bird Publicity

Goodreads:  #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr returns to the beloved town of Virgin River with a brand-new story about fresh starts, new friends and the magic of Christmas.

Kaylee Sloan’s home in Southern California is full of wonderful memories of the woman who raised her. But the memories are prolonging her grief over her mother’s recent death. A successful author, Kaylee hoped she could pour herself into her work. Instead she has terrible writer’s block and a looming deadline.

Determined to escape distractions and avoid the holiday season, Kaylee borrows a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing, and as she drives north through the mountains and the majestic redwoods, she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local watering hole is the heart of the town, and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a friend—or a stranger—in need.

Kaylee’s world is expanding in ways she never dreamed possible. And when she rescues a kitten followed by a dog with a litter of puppies, she finds her heart opening up to the animals who need her. And then there’s the dog trainer who knows exactly how to help her. As the holidays approach, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Virgin River. 

Ope’s Opinion: What an awesome story.  It is the beginning of my Christmas reading and this is the perfect one to start off the season.  The mother / daughter relationship feels close to mine.  Although it had sad parts, it was a positive uplifting story.

This is part of a long series I have been reading since it started, it was great to see where all the characters are now.  You certainly could read this one alone.   This book is more romance than some of her books.  I enjoyed that the romance was slow and sweet.  The ending was what you wanted and expected.