Going There

Author: Katie Couric
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Genre: Autobiography
Source: Purchased

Goodreads: Heartbreaking, hilarious, and brutally honest, Going There is the deeply personal life story of a girl next door turned household name.

For more than forty years, Katie Couric has been an iconic presence in the media world. In her brutally honest, hilarious, heartbreaking memoir, she reveals what was going on behind the scenes of her sometimes tumultuous personal and professional life – a story she’s never shared, until now. Of the medium she loves, the one that made her a household name, she says, “Television can put you in a box; the flat-screen can flatten. On TV, you are larger than life but smaller, too. It is not the whole story, and it is not the whole me. This book is.”

Beginning in early childhood, Couric was inspired by her journalist father to pursue the career he loved but couldn’t afford to stay in. Balancing her vivacious, outgoing personality with her desire to be taken seriously, she overcame every obstacle in her way: insecurity, an eating disorder, being typecast, sexism . . . challenges, and how she dealt with them, setting the tone for the rest of her career. Couric talks candidly about adjusting to sudden fame after her astonishing rise to co-anchor of the TODAY show, and guides us through the most momentous events and news stories of the era, to which she had a front-row seat:  Rodney King, Anita Hill, Columbine, the death of Princess Diana, 9/11, the Iraq War . . . In every instance, she relentlessly pursued the facts, ruffling more than a few feathers along the way.  She also recalls in vivid and sometimes lurid detail the intense pressure on female anchors to snag the latest “get”—often sensational tabloid stories like Jon Benet Ramsey, Tonya Harding, and OJ Simpson.

Couric’s position as one of the leading lights of her profession was  shadowed by the shock and trauma of losing her husband to stage 4 colon cancer when he was just 42, leaving her a widow and single mom to two daughters, 6 and 2. The death of her sister Emily, just three years later, brought yet more trauma—and an unwavering commitment to cancer awareness and research, one of her proudest accomplishments.

 Couric is unsparing in the details of her historic move to the anchor chair at the CBS Evening News—a world rife with sexism and misogyny.  Her “welcome” was even more hostile at 60 Minutes, an unrepentant boys club that engaged in outright hazing of even the most established women.  In the wake of the MeToo movement, Couric shares her clear-eyed reckoning with gender inequality and predatory behavior in the workplace, and downfall of Matt Lauer—a colleague she had trusted and respected for more than a decade.

Couric also talks about the challenge of finding love again, with all the hilarity, false-starts, and drama that search entailed, before finding her midlife Mr. Right.  Something she has never discussed publicly—why her second marriage almost didn’t happen. 

If you thought you knew Katie Couric, think again. Going There is the fast-paced, emotional, riveting story of a thoroughly modern woman, whose journey took her from humble origins to superstardom. In these pages, you will find a friend, a confidante, a role model, a survivor whose lessons about life will enrich your own.

Ope’s Opinion: I have said this before when I review an autobiography – it is hard to say much about how someone sees their own life. I did learn a lot of what happens behind the news broadcasts. Couric did go into great detail on many news events. It was very interesting to hear her take on Matt Lauer, his being fired and the aftermath.

Katie Couric did include many things about her family, her husbands death and her dating after the fact. She talked about her children some, but mostly left out of the public view.

I am close to Katie’s size and her age – I looked up to her – thought – if she can do it, so can I. After reading this, I changed my opinion of her and I can’t look up to what I thought she was. I am sure she had to be tough to be in that career, but she didn’t have to be that way at home.

I think it is best if I don’t read autobiography’s anymore. I’ll leave my belief in people, instead of reading things that make me disappointed.

Sold On Love

Author: Kathleen Fuller
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Christian Fiction
Source: Thomas Nelson ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: She’s a high-fashion realtor; he’s a low-maintenance mechanic. What on earth could they have in common?

Dressed in designer labels and cruising around town in her red Mercedes, workaholic realtor Harper Wilson presents the picture of success in charming Maple Falls. But Harper’s carefully cultivated image is resting on a shaky foundation. With a sudden drought in sales, she’s starting to see her professional dreams—along with her posh lifestyle—slipping away.

Car trouble brings her to mechanic Rusty Jenkins, and their unlikely friendship is taken to the next level when the laid-back Rusty allows her to give him a makeover for a charity bachelor auction. Harper soon discovers that beneath the town mechanic’s wild beard and grease-stained clothing lies a true Southern gentleman—someone with a kind heart and dreams of his own. Their chemistry is undeniable, but as they get closer, past fears and relationships start to creep in, reminding them of just how much is at stake when carefully constructed facades fall apart.

Maybe their worlds aren’t so separate after all. And maybe covering up who you really are keeps you from discovering what was always meant to be.

Ope’s Opinion: This is my third book by Kathleen Fuller. I like so much about her books, including this one – they are Christian fiction, slow moving romance, the characters have other interests besides each other, and the women are strong and independent.

Rusty and Harpers story was fun to follow. Their misunderstandings could happen to anyone. Madge ( Harpers mother ) and Don ( Harpers father ) story was not necessary and not as enjoyable. I still enjoyed the book.

I will be looking for Kathleen Fullers next book.

Coming Soon…

…. On a Bookshelf near you!

In August I hope to read….

Publication Date: August 9, 2022
Publisher: Griffin

Goodreads: Jen Devon’s Bend Toward the Sun is a gorgeous, emotional love story about taking unexpected paths, accepting loss, and finding strength in the transformative power of love.

Rowan McKinnon believes love isn’t real. With a botany PhD, two best friends who embrace her social quirkiness, and some occasional no-strings sex, she thinks she has everything she needs. But she hides deep wounds from the past—from an emotionally negligent mother, and a fiancé who treated her like a pawn in a game. The only love she’s ever known came from her grandmother Edie, who taught her to care for all things that grow.

After a chance encounter at a future winery, Rowan takes on the restoration of the property’s abandoned vineyard, immersing herself in nurturing the grapes back to their former glory—and trying not to think about Harrison Brady.

An obstetrician profoundly struggling after losing a patient, Harry Brady no longer believes he is capable of keeping people safe. Reeling from the loss and his crumbled romantic relationship, Harry leaves Los Angeles to emotionally recover at his parents’ new vineyard in Pennsylvania. He’ll work to get the place ready to open, and try to pick up the pieces of his heart.

As soon as he meets Rowan, sunlight begins to crack through the darkness smothering Harry’s soul. He’s compelled to explore the undeniable pull between them. After spending a lifetime protecting herself from feeling anything, for anyone, Rowan tries to keep things casual.

But even she can’t ignore their explosive connection.

A powerful, emotional novel about the ways love can change your life, Bend Toward the Sun is an unforgettable romance and a feast for the senses and the soul.

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

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

Sugar and Salt

Author: Susan Wiggs
Publisher: William Morrow & Company
Genre: Romance
Source: Tavia at HarperCollins

Goodreads: The New York Times bestselling author of The Lost and Found Bookstore returns to Perdita Street with a can’t-miss tale of friendship, hardship, redemption, and love between a San Francisco baker and a barbecue master from Texas.

Jerome “Sugar” Barnes learned the art of baking in his grandma’s bakery, also called Sugar, on historic Perdita Street in San Francisco. He supplies baked goods to the Lost and Found Bookshop across the street.

When the restaurant that shares his commercial kitchen loses its longtime tenant, a newcomer moves in: Margot Salton, a barbecue master from Texas.

Margot isn’t exactly on the run, but she needs a fresh start. She’s taken care of herself her whole life, pulling herself up by her fingernails to recover from trauma, and her dream has been to open a restaurant somewhere far, far from Texas. The shared kitchen with Jerome Sugar’s bakery is the perfect setup: a state-of-the-art kitchen and a vibrant neighborhood popular with tourists and locals.

Margot instantly takes to Jerome’s grandmother, the lively, opinionated Ida, and the older woman proves to be a good mentor. Margot thinks Jerome is gorgeous, and despite their different backgrounds their attraction is powerful–even though Jerome worries that Margot will simply move on from him once she’s found some peace and stability. But just as she starts to relax into a happy new future, Margot’s past in Texas comes back to haunt her… 

Ope’s Opinion: Once again Susan Wiggs wrote a story that made me keep flipping the pages. I liked the pull yourself up by the bootstraps attitude that Margot had throughout the whole book. Each time she was pushed down, she figured out how to deal with it. I just think she was pushed down a couple of times too many. There also seemed an unlikely hero who just stepped in and saved the day – this happened too many times to feel real.

I did like Jerome and his relationship with Margot. The relationship moved at a slow paced and they were friends first. I did like the small side story of Jerome’s mom and dad.

I have enjoyed other books by Susan Wiggs more than this one. I will read her again.

Something Blue

Author: Heather McGovern
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Forever ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: This wedding needs to be the event of the season. Unfortunately, the best man is doing everything he can to derail it . . .

Wedding planner Beth Shipley has seen it all: bridezillas, monster-in-laws, and last-minute jitters at the altar. But this wedding is different—and the stakes are much, much higher. Not only is her best friend the bride, but bookings at her family’s inn have been in free fall ever since an unfortunate food-poisoning incident. Beth’s got one chance to save her family’s business, and she knows she can do it. As long as she doesn’t let Sawyer Silva’s good looks and overprotective, overbearing older brother act distract her.

Sawyer learned firsthand that forever doesn’t last. So when his brother decides to race down the aisle with a woman he barely knows, Sawyer is determined to keep him from making the biggest mistake of his life. Yet the more time Sawyer spends around the passionate and hardworking Beth, the more trouble he has disentangling his feelings—about the wedding and the wedding planner. When Beth discovers Sawyer’s plans, can he convince her that his only real objection is to a future that doesn’t include her? 

Ope’s Opinion: This is the perfect Hallmark movie. It is obvious from the beginning where the story is going and that is the way it should be. The fun part is the journey! It is a very romantic read with a closed door – just how I like it.

The three sisters relationships are amazing and supportive. Owning a business together pulls each of their strengths to keep it going. Independent woman are always my favorite characters.

This is light, easy and quick paced – perfect for a summer read by the pool or at the beach.

The Bodyguard

Author: Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Romance
Source: St. Martin’s Press ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindgerten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

Ope’s Opinion: I am struggling writing a review for this book. This may not be fair, but because I have read Katherine Center a few times before , I had high expectations for this book. Parts of this book were very light, unbelievable and almost funny. Other parts were deep issues each of the main characters were dealing with. Some times I felt like I was being yank between a light summer read and a deeper look into two people trying to work through some issues.

There were a few things that I did like – I appreciated the bodyguard was a petite woman ( instead of a large man ), I liked that it was not insta-love and I liked that the physical relationship took time and was behind closed doors. I do enjoy the fake relationship sub-genre.

The epilogue was pretty long and included a lot more information than I felt needed.

Beach Hut Puzzle

Let’s get ready to go to the beach!

The poster was a bit on the small side.
The box of the puzzle actually helped more while putting the puzzle together.

The pieces were nice to handle.
It had more a mat finish, so the glare was not too bad.
It was a bit of a challenge, but all the little pictures inside the big picture made it easier.

Any Other Family

Author: Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Fiction
Source: G.P. Putnam’s Sons ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: The New York Times bestselling author of The Weird Sisters returns with a striking and intimate new novel about three very different women facing an impossible question: What makes a family?

They look just like any other family. But they aren’t a family like any other – not quite. Instead, they are three sets of parents who adopted four biological siblings, committing to keeping the children connected after the death of their grandmother.

Tabitha, who adopted the twins, is the planner of the group, responsible for coordinating playdates and birthdays and Sunday night dinners, insistent that everything happens just so. Quiet and steady Ginger, single mother to the eldest daughter, resists the forced togetherness, her own unsettled childhood leaving her wary of trusting too much. And Elizabeth is still reeling from going directly from failed fertility treatments into adopting a newborn, terrified that her unhappiness means she was not meant to be a mother at all.

But when the three women receive a surprising call from their children’s birth mother, announcing she is pregnant again and wants them to help her find an adoptive family for this child too, the delicate bonds they are still struggling to form threaten to collapse. As tensions rise, the women reckon with their own feelings about what it means to be a mother and what they owe each other as a family.

Set across the span of a family vacation, one full of boisterous laughter and emotional upheaval, Any Other Family is a thought-provoking and poignant look at how families shift and evolve and a striking portrait of motherhood in all its forms.

Ope’s Opinion: I can not believe Eleanor Brown’s imagination to come up with this story. The foul language was constantly throughout this whole book – I would have enjoyed it more without the language.

The first third of the book introduced the characters and explained the situation they shared.Seeing it from the perspective of each woman made it move very quickly.

The middle third of the book had a lot of repetitive information. Elizabeth whined the whole time about the same things. Tabitha had to be in control and wanted everyone to agree with her. Ginger was my favorite – she was kind of quiet, but stood up for herself.

The last third of the book was about resolving the conflict in the relationships. The end showed them all moving forward, but didn’t exactly wrap everything up.

First Bride to Fall

Author: Ginny Baird
Publisher: Entangled Amara
Genre: Romance
Source: Entangled Amara ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Nell Delaney will do almost anything for her parents and her two sisters. But enter a marriage of convenience to save the family’s coffee shop? Too far. So Nell and her sisters strike a deal: whoever hasn’t found love in thirty days has to step up to take one for the team. The good news? Nell knows the perfect guy to fall in love with. The bad news? She’s going to have to pretend she likes the outdoors…a lot.

Adventure guide Grant Williams knows immediately that Nell is not exactly Little Miss Outdoorsy. She’s a walking natural disaster—an amazingly adorable disaster. And whoa, their chemistry is unbelievable. Everything between them is so perfect, he’s not even a little bit shocked when he starts thinking of forever…

Right up until he catches the town gossiping about the Delaney sisters’ bargain and realizes she’s just using him to win a bet. Unfortunately, his family’s unreliable reputation means he can’t just dump one of the town’s sweethearts. No, she needs to dump him. If she’s going to pretend to be the perfect doting bride, well, he’ll just pretend to be the worst bachelor on the market.

Let the games begin…

Ope’s Opinion: There are positive and negative things about this book. I really appreciated that this book was a clean romance and it had no foul language. On the other side, the main character Nell, basically lied to her romantic interest ( Grant )from the very beginning. She pretended to like outdoor adventures and didn’t tell him why she wanted the relationship to move forward so quickly. If you have lie, what kind of relationship is that?

Of course all the lies come out, but it sort of made me not want to route for them. I didn’t want Nell to get what she wanted because of how she went about trying to get it. This is the first in a series, I am on the fence about reading the rest of the series.

The end is typical of a romance novel. It also left things open for the next book.

When It Falls Apart

Author: Catherine ByBee
Publisher: Montlake
Genre: Romance
Source: Montlake ( Netgalley )

Goodreads: Brooke Turner has always had a complicated relationship with her father. But when his health takes a turn for the worse, she drops everything to care for him. He’s her dad, after all, and he needs her. What Brooke doesn’t anticipate is the unraveling of her long-term relationship and a cross-country move to San Diego’s Little Italy.

Luca D’Angelo is the oldest of three children and a single father to a young daughter. When his mother rents the top floor of their house to Brooke, he’s angry. Who is this beautiful stranger with no ties to the neighborhood? Can she be trusted in such close proximity to his family?

As Luca learns of Brooke’s difficult journey with her ailing father, his heart softens. And Brooke, who witnesses Luca’s struggle as a single parent, develops feelings for him, too. But when it all falls apart, will love heal their wounded hearts?

Ope’s Opinion: I do like Catherine Bybee’s stories. I could enjoy them more if she didn’t use all the foul language and the explicit steamy parts. There were only a couple of steamy parts, but they were too detailed for my reading preferences.

I liked that Brooke and Luca were a team through all the hard times. They were honest with each other and kept the communication going, even when other people were not making it easy.

The ending was exactly what you would expect from a romance book – no surprises there.