The Hope Chest

Author: Viola Shipman
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Genre: Fiction
Source: St. Martin’s Press

Goodreads:  From the beloved author of Indie Next Pick The Charm Bracelet, a story about an heirloom hope chest and the connection it inspires among three people in need of hope.

The discovery of one woman’s heirloom hope chest unveils precious memories and helps three people who have each lost a part of themselves find joy once again.

Ever since she was diagnosed with ALS, fiercely independent Mattie doesn’t feel like herself. She can’t navigate her beloved home, she can’t go for a boat ride, and she can barely even feed herself. Her devoted husband, Don, doesn’t want to imagine life without his wife of nearly fifty years, but Mattie isn’t likely to make it past their anniversary.

But when Rose, Mattie’s new caretaker, and her young daughter, Jeri, enter the couple’s life, happiness and the possibility for new memories return. Together they form a family, and Mattie is finally able to pass on her memories from the hope chest she received from her mother.

With each item—including a favorite doll, family dishes, an embroidered apron, and an antique Christmas ornament—the hope chest connects Mattie, Don and Rose to each other and helps them find hope again in the face of overwhelming life challenges.

A beautiful story about the unconditional love and support of family, The Hope Chest will remind you that hope can be found where and when you least expect it.

Ope’s Opinion: This was such a sweet story of unconditional love and family.  This was told in the present and the past.  Although I am not much of a historical reader, the history in this book was a family history and was such an important part of the wonderful story.  

The characters in this book were loving and really cared for each other.   Their struggles seemed to bring them closer together.  Rose is such an important person to them, she became family. 

Viola Shipman knows how to write a heart felt story with relatable characters.   

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The Good Widow

Author: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Source: Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Goodreads:  Amazon Charts bestselling authors Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke make their suspense debut in this twisty, emotional thriller.

Elementary school teacher Jacqueline “Jacks” Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…

Ope’s Opinion: This is the best book Liz and Lisa have written!  It starts with interesting characters, a great story and a wonderful setting – that is just the beginning!!  Keep reading…  it only gets better. 

There is so much I want to say, but I do not want to spoil the surprises and twists in this book.  This story is told from multiple perspectives – all labeled at the beginning of the chapter, so you know exactly who is talking and the time period.  It does go from past to present – back and forth.  I think that adds to the suspense in the story.

It is so well written, I didn’t just know how Jacks was feeling, I was feeling it myself.  The ending is amazing, surprising and satisfying.   Read this one!

Catch a Falling Star

Author: Kim Culbertson
Publisher: Scholastic
Genre: Young Adult
Source:  Purchased

 

Goodreads:  A deliciously charming novel about finding true love . . . and yourself.

Nothing ever happens in Little, CA. Which is just the way Carter Moon likes it. But when Hollywood arrives to film a movie starring former child star turned PR mess Adam Jakes, everything changes. Carter’s town becomes a giant glittery set and, much to her annoyance, everyone is starry-eyed for Adam. Carter seems to be the only girl not falling all over herself to get a glimpse of him. Which apparently makes her perfect for the secret offer of a lifetime: playing the role of Adam’s girlfriend while he’s in town, to improve his public image, in exchange for a hefty paycheck. Her family really needs the money and so Carters agrees. But it turns out Adam isn’t at all who she thought he was. As they grow closer, their relationship walks a blurry line between what’s real and what’s fake, and Carter must open her eyes to the scariest of unexplored worlds – her future. Can Carter figure out what she wants out of life AND get the guy? Or are there no Hollywood endings in real life?

Ope’s Opinion:  This is a really cute story.  I would encourage my teen to read this one.  The main character ( Carter ) had good moral standards, other interests besides boys, and cared about her family.  All things I would want a teen to be encourage to be like.

It took me a little while to get into this story, but it was worth it.  Being introduced to everyone and setting up the reason Carter would say yes to Parker’s proposal took a little longer then I expected.  I wanted to jump right into it, but the set up was necessary to understand Carter.

The ending was realistic.  After all, these are seventeen year olds.  They have a lot of life left to live.

Working Fire

Author: Emily Bleeker
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Mystery
Source:  Ashley of Amazon

Goodreads:  From the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of When I’m Gone comes a compelling novel of a bond between sisters, tested by tragedy…

Ellie Brown thought she’d finally escaped her stifling hometown of Broadlands, Illinois; med school was supposed to be her ticket out. But when her father has a stroke, she must return home to share his care with her older sister, Amelia, who’s busy with her own family. Working as a paramedic, Ellie’s days are monotonous, driving an ambulance through streets she’d hoped never to see again.

Until a 911 dispatch changes everything. The address: her sister’s house. Rushing to the scene, Ellie discovers that Amelia and her husband, Steve, have been shot in a home invasion. After Amelia is rushed to the hospital, Ellie tries to make sense of the tragedy. But what really happened inside her sister’s house becomes less and less clear. As Amelia hangs on in critical condition, Ellie uncovers dark revelations about her family’s past that challenge her beliefs about those closest to her…and force her to question where her devotions truly lie.

Ope’s Opinion:  This is my second book by Emily Bleeker and I hope there will be many more.   She can really weave a story with twists that are believable.  The story is told from two sisters perspective – one from present and one from the past.  Most chapters left you hanging – leaving you wanting the next part.

There were some secrets that I figured out ahead of time, but there were several secrets that came out later and surprised me.  It was an enjoyable read that kept me thinking…

I am not sure Emily Bleeker left the ending open so there could be a  sequel, but it left me feeling it wasn’t finished.  I would still recommend the book.

When We Were Worthy

Author: Marybeth Mayhew Whalen
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Ashley at Lake Union Publishing

Goodreads:  A win brought them together, but loss may tear them apart.

When the sound of sirens cuts through a cool fall night, the small town of Worthy, Georgia, hurtles from triumph to tragedy. Just hours before, they’d watched the Wildcats score a winning touchdown. Now, they’re faced with the deaths of three cheerleaders—their promising lives cut short in a fatal crash. And the boy in the other car—the only one to survive—is believed to be at fault. As rumors begin to fly and accusations spin, allegiances form and long-kept secrets emerge.

At the center of the whirlwind are four women, each grappling with loss, regret, shame, and lies: Marglyn, a grieving mother; Darcy, whose son had been behind the wheel; Ava, a substitute teacher with a scandalous secret; and Leah, a cheerleader who should have been in the car with her friends, but wasn’t. If the truth comes out, will it bring redemption—or will it be their downfall?

Ope’s Opinion:  If you remember and enjoyed the show Friday Nights Lights, you will really enjoy this book.  It is set in  a small town, surrounding football and cheerleaders, where everyone knows everyone else – or do they?  The secrets come out slowly throughout the book.

This story shows how hard it is to be a teen trying to make decisions that will effect you later in life.  Being the parents isn’t easier either.

I have another Marybeth Mayhew Whalen on my shelf.  This book made me want to move it up on TBR list.

 

Pretty, Nasty, Lovely

Author: Rosalind Noonan
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation
Genre: Thriller
Source:  Purchased

 

Goodreads:  Sisterhood has a price . . .

Pledging to Theta Pi at Merriwether University seemed to offer Emma Danelski a passport to friendship, fun, and popularity. But the excitement of pledge training quickly fades, as does the warmth of her so-called sisters. What’s left is a stifling society filled with petty rules, bullying, and manipulation. Most haunting are the choices Emma makes in the wake of another sorority sister’s suicide . . .

It doesn’t matter that no one else needs to know what Emma did, or how vastly different life at Theta House is from the glossy image it projects. Emma knows. And now, with her loyalties tested, she must decide which secrets are worth keeping and how far she’ll go to protect them–and herself . . .

Ope’s Opinion:  Rosalind Noonan can weave the best stories.  She wove a good story again this time, but it was not one of my favorite books from her.  The subject was hard to read and I didn’t love the characters. 

When the story moved from past to present it was confusing some times.  I wasn’t sure what order events happened in.  There were also so many other side stories going on that took away from Lydia’s story.

Throughout this whole book I felt like I was being told the story, but I never felt a part of it.  I will read Rosalind Noonan again.

Sunshine Beach

Author: Wendy Wax
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Kristin of Kritters Ramblings

 

Goodreads:  There’s nothing that a fresh coat of paint and a few glasses of wine can’t fix…
 
After losing their life savings in a Ponzi scheme, Maddie, Avery, and Nikki have banded together to make the most of what they have left, using their determination, ingenuity, guts, and a large dose of elbow grease. It’s Maddie’s daughter Kyra who stumbles across a once glorious beachfront hotel that has fallen into disrepair. The opportunity to renovate this seaside jewel is too good to pass up—especially when they come up with the idea of shooting their own independent television show about the restoration. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything. With the cameras rolling, Maddie’s second-chance romance with her all-too-famous new boyfriend gets complicated, Avery struggles with grief over the loss of her mother, and Nikki’s reluctance to commit to the man who loves her could leave her to face the biggest challenge of her life. Even the hotel seems to be against them, when their renovation uncovers a decades-old unsolved murder which just might bring their lives tumbling down all over again…

Ope’s Opinion: This is the fourth in the Ten Beach Road Series.  You can read this one alone, but the previous books give a lot of background that makes the book so much better.

If you like HGTV and women’s friendships – you will really like this series of books.  Seeing all of them work together again was fun!  It was also good to see their other relationships progress.

There are at least two more books in the series, so we hope to get some closure in those books to all the open endings in this book.